Every Friday (by God's grace) I'll be posting material helpful for leaders in the church. You'll be able to find this collection of posts anytime at http://tinyurl.com/AllThingsLeadership or you can subscribe to the "...all things new" Leadership RSS here.
This one is a post from theResurgence.com yesterday:
If you are like me, you have probably had a bad small group experience at least once in your life. You know the kind, where some weirdo takes over the discussion, or where the leader allows too much time of awkward silence. There is nothing worse than a bad small group experience. In fact, this is the reason why so many people are reluctant to be a part of a small group. As group leaders, our job is to protect our small groups and make them a safe place where people can share, grow, and learn together. We train our small group leaders to watch out for the following five landmines, which can destroy a good small group.
1. They become a gossip group.
Small groups are not a place to talk about others; rather they should be a safe place that is free from gossip and condemnation. People who attend a small group should feel free to come as they are and share openly and honestly. If we are not careful, small groups can degenerate into a gossip group that will tear down instead of build up.
2. They become a one-man show.
The leader should not do all the talking. Encourage others to participate and share in the group discussions. I have been to some small groups where only one person does all the talking. When this happens no one wants to share, much less attend. An effective small group leader encourages everyone to participate in the times of discussion.
3. They become a place to complain about the church.
Small groups can become a sounding board for disgruntled people to complain about the church. This is not a place to complain and slander the church. If people have a problem with the church, they need to share it with the church’s leadership, which is biblical. Train your leaders to protect the unity of the church by not allowing upset people to use the small group as a place to complain about their problems.
4. They become a place for crazy people to take over.
Small groups can attract crazy people who will hijack the group if you let them. Do not allow people to get off the subject by chasing rabbit trails. Whenever people start getting off track in the discussions, bring them back quickly. This requires a lot of discernment and grace. A good leader can keep people on track and the discussion moving.
5. They become an end in themselves.
Sometimes small groups become merely a meeting place or a social club; rather small groups should reach out to new people in the community. Small groups can also serve the community. Encourage your people to reach out to others. Begin thinking of creative ways that you can serve together as a small group.
by Winfield Bevins - Outer Banks, North Carolina