Leading a group of 10 to 12 individuals can be tough because each person has different needs. Although everyone in the group shares the same goal—to grow in their relationship with Jesus—each person's best next step in pursuing that goal is often different. So, how do you lead individuals while also making sure the whole group is headed in the right direction? Here are three things to keep an eye on:
1. Lead toward the big goal. Take comfort in the fact that even though people have different wiring, personalities, experiences, talents, and temperaments, the purpose of the group of the group is the same for each of them: to create an environment where they can grow in their relationship with God. Within the context of that goal, the individuals in your group will be at different places in their journeys and will be ready to take different next steps. Your job is to keep an eye on the overarching goal while helping individuals take personal steps toward Jesus.
2. Determine where each person is. Each person in your group comes into group at a different place in their journey with God and with community. It's important to figure out where each person is so you can lead them effectively. Some group members may be exploring the idea of a relationship with God. Others may be beginning their relationship with him. Still others may be pursuing a deeper relationship with God through community. People in different places in their spiritual journeys face different challenges and struggles. Determining where your group members are spiritually will help you decide which topics to study as well as how to tee up helpful conversations.
3. Point to next steps. Once you know where everyone is starting, you can begin to see their best next steps. A next step might opening up more to the rest of the group, serving on Sundays in a ministry area, signing up for a mission trip, or just beginning to read the Bible and pray on a regular basis. You may be able to see what a person's best next step is better than he or she can. And the entire group can offer encouragement and accountability. Just remember: your job is to help your group members as they take a next step. They're responsible for actually taking the step. And God is responsible for growing them.
As you help each individual take steps toward Christ, you strengthen the group as a whole because each person learns and grows in doing his or her part in the body of Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”