Leading a community group is an investment in people. Taking time to listen to their concerns, walking alongside them through struggles, being mindful to pray for them through the week, and finding words to offer encouragement is challenging, but meaningful work. There are multiple ways we’ve found to engage our members to ease this load, with the added bonus of creating a greater sense of ownership in the group.
First, we rotate around to different houses to share the responsibilities of hosting duties. (Hosting Duties: frenetic cleaning that happens in those few precious minutes between dinner and the first guest arriving). By rotating, no one family must take on an open-ended obligation to open their house week after week.
We also use the sermon questions in our discussions. Initially this was a tough call since in previous stages in our lives we all cherished deep studies of God’s word. But, we found that members of our CG lived very busy lives and preparing for a discussion using a guide or book created both a burden and a sense of failure when people showed up unprepared. Using the sermon questions has helped us to focus on applying the sermon passage to our own lives. In addition, by using the sermon questions it is fairly easy to ask anyone in our group to lead discussion.
Meeting on a weeknight was a challenge to families with school-aged children; the next morning was often difficult and full of grogginess. So, we moved our study to Friday nights which relieved some of the pressure we had faced to end on time. It is especially difficult to put a timer on a discussion of God’s word and even harder to limit the time people have to share their prayer requests, often full of emotion.
We have found that making these small changes and spreading preparation and hosting amongst our CG has led our members to deeper investment in the CG, leading to stronger relationships. This community building has been integral to our lives as our dear brothers and sisters in Christ have walked alongside us through the joys and sorrows of life. God has richly blessed us with a CG full of people who know and love us.
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