Cultivating a heart for others is probably the most difficult pattern in any group. Let's face it, getting together for the social stuff, or for the bible study, that's fun, enjoyable, and natural for most groups. But the missional pattern of cultivating a heart for others, well, that's a little more tricky.
As a leader, we need to have open ears to listen to determine if our group is even doing that pattern. Let me give you some clues to help you determine if your group is cultivating hearts for others and if you're living out the missional pattern.
The first thing to do is listen in on prayer request. If you're praying for the kids, or the gallbladder surgery, or the stuff at work and you're not praying for the people who need Jesus, then odds are, you've lost your missional edge.
If your group is excited about gathering together for parties and picnics, for banquettes and bowling, and you can't get together to serve, odds are, you've lost your missional edge.
If your group loves to sit around in a circle, open up the scriptures, have an engaging conversation about biblical principles, but you don't do the next thing and figure out how to take those biblical principles and pass them on to others, or if the focus is just on your group and not the world around you, odds are, you've lost your missional edge.
If your group, like a bunch of editorialists, sit around in the circle and complain about how messed up the world is and how it's immoral. If your time is spent on complaining and not on talking about a redeeming, loving God who wants to have a relationship with a broken and lost world. If you're not focused on that, but instead you're focused on all the barriers and all the problems, then odds are, you've lost your missional edge.
That's why as a leader, you need to listen in and help determine, "Where is my group? Is my group missional or is it self-absorbed?" If it's self-absorbed, that means as a leader, you need to spend more time working on the pattern of cultivating a heart for others.
*This is the twenty-sixth post in a series of 27 Tips for Small Group Leaders
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.
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