Sunday, June 21, 2009

What Every (small group) Leader Should Know - pt. 2

Instant Recap:
1. Ministers/Leaders MUST be & learn to be servants first!
2. Leaders MUST learn to put others FIRST!

Ok, Now you are caught up... no excuses!

The focus of this particular post will be about more of the mechanics of doing ministry, than the spiritual focus of the last post.

3. Crisis Management!

First off, and I can't stress this enough.... for a good leader, learning crisis management is a GOLDMINE for leading... NO Matter WHAT, or WHO you are leading!!!

I heard Miles Monroe say one time that when God put Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, he told them to develop people (be fruitful) and Manage (tend) the "Things" of the garden. This is a very key point in learning to be a good and GREAT leader!

YOU MUST understand that in any leadership situation, you MUST... I REPEAT MUST separate people from their stuff!!! People, in general are all in need of the same thing, healthy relationship with God as well as each other. This is wonderful news if you can see that and that alone... The problem seems to be that most leaders will spend 90% of their time dealing with people's stuff, and not in relationship with the people... To use a illustration I used in the last post... Zacchaeus

You see, Zacchaeus was, in his time, what was called the "Chief" tax collector..... Think about that for a second... EVEN the bible refers to Him by what he manages... NOT who he is!

Along comes Jesus...

Jesus saw him in the tree and immediately saw through his stuff to who he was and what HE needed... relationship! He did not see him as his contemporaries did.... a cheat, a swindler, a thief..... in today's world think "Chief Politician".

What does this have to do with Crisis Management?? EVERYTHING!!!!!

IF You can successfully separate people from their stuff, you will alleviate and successfully manage crisis Situations....

You see the KEY to crisis management is to manage the situation not the people... IF you can break down what is happening from what the people really need you can be very successful as a leader of anything.

How does this pertain to small groups you ask??
Well.... here's a situation of something that WILL happen to you as a leader if you give it enough time.....

Let's talk about "Little Johnny", you know the little brat that grew up through all of the cautionary life tales of how to NOT act and what to NOT do. Well.... BAD News, Little johnny, grew up and is now big Johnny, and he got invited to your small group!!!

Big Johnny isn't exactly mean, but he is what we will refer to as "Spiritually Combative"... He is now the guy that is ALWAYS trying to prove how much more he knows than you and how contradictory everything you say about God is.... THIS is a CRISIS, that needs some serious Management!!!!!!!

So what do we do??

First you have to look at the real root of what is going on. You see, Johnny always got in trouble, and his whole life was spent feeling like the world was against HIM because of his actions. YES they did come against HIM but only because they didn't understand how to separate the actions. So now that he is all grown up, he still carries with him this self image of having to prove himself to everyone around him!

How do you deal with that???
First and foremost this is dealt with by having strong and healthy boundaries for any meeting/interaction you have as a leader... They can be as simple as "We are going to talk tonight about....bla, bla..... Please hold any comments till I open the floor for discussions".
Another option (and one I have found very helpful for dealing with a bunch of kids with ADD)
-- Explain the "ground rules" that any comments that are made need to NOT be directed as a response to what someone else has said... Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it should be a safe environment to share opinions openly.

What setting these ground rules, does is give you the power to stop any arguments, or issues that can arise from people like Johnny... by simply going back to the ground rules, and not putting down the person.... "Please keep in mind johnny, that we are all entitled to our opinions and any comments should not be directed toward someone else because of their opinions".
IF Johnny continues to disrupt, it is a simple matter of taking a break and asking johnny to go to another room (out of earshot of the group) ans simply stating that IF Johnny continues to go against the rules, you will have to ask him to leave. End of discussion!!

In most situations as a leader, rarely will you find your self dealing with a "Physical" crisis, the majority will be these "Emotional" issues and situations.

It is a good thing for leaders to practice dealing with different scenario's... I will give you a few...

1. Johnny, decides he is going to use the time in the meeting to talk about 'Amway' and how it has changed HIS life

2. Someone in the group begins to talk about God and how "SHE" changed her life by leading her to a commune outside of town where she can TRULY be free

3. IN the discussion, you come to a topic of abortion... one of the people in the room has had an abortion, and is in a very emotional state, during the time, she breaks down and starts sobbing uncontrollably.

4. You find out at one meeting that someone is a homosexual.

In each of these examples, IF you can see beyond the issues to the person, you will find the same thing... someone who is in need of relationship with others... And in some cases, it is OK to refer someone to a professional counselor if they need more help than you as a leader can provide. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX ANYONE!!!! Only to Love them and walk with them the best you can!

*** Very Important ***
Remember, IF there is interaction with someone that seems to require/consume the entire focus of the group, take it elsewhere (And always gender specific... guys with guys, girls with girls)
There is always more than 1 person in a group... otherwise it wouldn't be a group (duh) and it is important as a leader to remember that there are quite a few other people with needs, and if one person monopolizes the meeting, can make the others feel less important (Very BAD!!!)

*** Practical Notes From The Dark Side ***

In meetings dealing with people you may occasionally come across a doozie that requires a bit of finesse to deal with.


1. Child abuse.
YOU MUST REPORT THIS TO THE POLICE!!! but be careful, and try to keep as few others in the group from knowing/talking about it as it can cause more harm in the long run than it does good. Try to set up a meeting with a superior or another "Equal" leader to help you walk through this as the more council you can get the better.

2. Spousal Abuse.
This is a bit different, you need to strongly encourage that the person leave the situation and seek help... DO NOT Confront the spouse, as this ALWAYS leads down a bad road and you may not have another chance to help them out of their situation if you do.

3. Attempted Suicide.
IF They are threatening to do harm to themselves or other you MUST REPORT THIS to the authorities!!! If they have already attempted it... remember to deal with them not their situation, they need love not judgement!! They also need someone to walk with them. NO ONE ever attempts suicide in public, or with friends... they do it when, and usually because they are alone... they NEED relationship, and healthy LOVE!!!

4. Death/Divorce... Both can be Equally as painful
This is delicate in that everyone grieves differently, but everyone that grieves, MUST be allowed to grieve in their own way (as long as it isn't causing harm to themselves or others)
Let them grieve, be there if they need you and pray for them from a distance if they don't... that's about all you can do.

I think that about covers most of what I can think of for this post, I will post lots more soon [;o)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Every (small group) Leader Should Know - pt. 1

A question I have been pondering in my mind recently (since a recent meeting with my pastor) is ...
WHAT should Small Group leader's know??

Kind of a loaded question, but I hope in my ramblings about life and ministry experience, I can give a bit of an answer that is useful.

IF I have learned one thing in life and ministry it is this...
1. Ministers/Leaders MUST be & learn to be servants first!

You see in the new testament church, there came a point when certain widows were being overlooked. This wasn't an intentional thing, but the "12" were so busy serving and trying to keep everyone going in the right direction (and there were so many new ones daily) that they couldn't do it all anymore, at that point there arose a need for others to be "Appointed" to the role of serving! - These men weren't the holiest looking, and they didn't always say the right thing - BUT they were "known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom" (acts 6:3)
This is one of these times in the theological world known as the "Law of First Reference" and VERY IMPORTANT in church leadership. This is the first place in the New Testament Church where we clearly see the appointing of church leaders other than the "Primary Leader(s)" and what are they?? Servants!! Appointed Servants!
***caution - personal commentary content here ***
I think this particular point has been missing in the church at large for
a long time. You see the world has a view of the church as anything but
a serving organization... Leaders fall into the place of being "Spiritual Money
Launderers" because they have been put into leadership based on how they look,
what they say, or what Seminary they attended, and NOT because they were FIRST
appointed as servants b/c they were "Full of the spirit and Wisdom"!

IF small group leaders (or any leader for that matter) can learn THIS first... Operating as a servant regardless if title, position, or anyone even knowing their name--- they will be on the road to becoming GREAT in the kingdom!

That's just the beginning --- Serving never stops!

2. Leaders MUST learn to put others FIRST!

This one can be affected tremendously by the personality of the individual, but I will try to talk through some of that as well.

What does it mean to put other's first? Well, let's start with Zacchaeus ....
When learning to be & become a better leader, it is important that we take our cues from the best leaders of the bible, starting with the "Mac" of all leaders -- Jesus. With this particular story we see Jesus walking down the street amongst a large crowd, when things take a bit of a turn...
The bible doesn't say much about zacchaeus other than he was THE chief tax collector and was wealthy... it also goes on to say (Luke 19:1-3) He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. --
Here is a very interesting point... He wanted to see "Who Jesus Was" -- Nothing more. He wasn't looking for a miracle, or healing... He wasn't looking for the key to life... the universe... and everything (42) ... He wasn't looking for the spiritual existentialism that most would die for... He simply wanted to see who Jesus was!
Next up is where we very clearly see "Who Jesus Is" in this light. What does Jesus do?? Sees him, and says... "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."
You see as an effective leader we MUST learn to put others needs above our own, or above our expectation of their needs... I will say this at the risk of upsetting a lot of more traditional church "leaders" but sometimes what the people really need is NOT another event, NOT a bible study, NOT a great band on Sunday... what they need is a REAL, PERSONAL, and DEFINABLE connection and experience with the LIVING God!!! Can You SEE THAT!!! That is HUGE as a leader! People really need GOD more than they need YOU... but we are here to be used by God to be that connection sometimes, and more importantly to point people to God, then get out of the way!

I promise you ... 5 min experiencing the true and LIVING God can change your life more, and leave you happier than 1000 sermons I can give and weeks/months/years of counseling I could provide.

***caution - personal commentary content here ***
I have seen time and time again, leaders miss this by thinking THEY are what is going to change the people. Take for instance... worship service, someone engaged in worship, you can see that God is working on/in them... so what do I do ... Well I need to Help God Out" so I put my hands on them and begin to pray......... WOAH!!!!! Back That Up!!!!! Since WHEN does God need us to "Help Him Out" when he is clearly working without us in that situation??? .... Here's what happens... As soon as I/YOU/WE decide to put our hands on someone who 1 has not asked, or 2 is in a place where God is working and they are oblivious to their surroundings... we immediately call attention to ourselves, and take their focus off from God and put on US... I am NOT that big to be a proxy for God!!! Sorry, Won't do it!!! I am here to point people TO God, then get out of the way, not stand there and translate.

Which brings us to a close for today (gotta get some work done) But I will try to write more soon!!!