In last week's post, "The Group Leader's Role in Spiritual Growth", I wrote that leaders aren't responsible for growing people spiritually. They're responsible for supporting spiritual growth by cultivating relationships within the group, promoting participation in the group, and celebrating change as it happens in individuals. If individuals are responsible for their own spiritual growth, there are three things they can do to maximize their own growth during the life of a group. (If you've gone through or are going through Community: Starting Well in Your Small Group, these will sound familiar):
1. Show up. This is the flip-side of the leader's responsibility to cultivate relationships. You can't form the kind of deep relationships that support growth if you aren't intentional about spending time with the members of your group on a regular basis. There are legitimate reasons to miss a group meeting. Everyone gets sick. Everyone has emergencies. But it's important to prioritize group over other distractions if you want to grow.
2. Join in. This is the flip-side of the leader's responsibility to promote participation. Group members have more opportunity for growth when they feel ownership of the group. That means participating in the weekly discussions and taking responsibility for some of the tasks that have to be done for a group to thrive. Facilitating discussions, hosting meetings, preparing snacks, leading prayer times, and planning socials provide great opportunities to serve the other members of the group and possibly to step outside of your comfort zone.
3. Be real. Let the members of your group know who you are . . . who you really are and what's really going on in your life. Knowing others and allowing yourself to be known supports the kind of accountability, belonging, and care that groups can provide. And those three characteristics of great group experiences give you a level of freedom that leads to spiritual growth.
In the next post, I’ll talk about the role of the group in spiritual growth.