Small Group Tip #13: The Relational Bridge

By Bill Search

A friend of mine likes to say, "You need to build a relational bridge strong enough to hold the weight of truth."

That's a good metaphor, isn't it? And it’s a beautiful picture of what we're trying to do in groups. That's why it's so important to build relationships as you dive into the truth of Scripture.

If you don't build the relationships, here's what will happen: As you start to talk about important truth-filled stuff, people will simply nod and smile and tell you what they think that you want to hear. But if you have built a relational bridge, they will share what they really believe.

That's why it's important initially as your group gets started, and then periodically throughout the life of your group, to build social and interaction time inside and outside of the group. This lets them know that it's important they are the authentic and real them. That they can be who they really are in the group and that you accept that.

You would never drive a truck full of cargo across an unfinished bridge, so why do we think that we can blurt out truth at people we barely know and expect that the relationship will hold? So as a leader, it is your job to monitor this as much as possible. You keep an eye on people's participation. You include people. You watch for the wandering and invite them back in and you insist that everybody participate, is involved, and is the authentic them.

When you do that, you are building a relational bridge. Then when you get to the point of talking about matters of truth, the relationships will hold.

*This is the thirteenth post in a series of 27 Tips for Small Group Leaders

Bill Search Simple Small Groups

BILL SEARCH is the author of Simple Small Groups. He has served in ministry for nearly 20 years. Bill loves spending time with his family, drinking great coffee, listening to jazz, and enjoying the great outdoors.