Why is it that some group experiences are amazing, while others flounder? I'm guessing you have experienced both at one time or another. What makes a great group, great?
Whether it is a small group Bible study, community group, missional community, elder team, discipleship group, volunteer ministry team, or church staff, let me offer 7 ingredients for a great group.
None of these ingredients are original or earth shattering. In fact, they are very unoriginal. However, I would say where one or two of these ingredients are lacking in a group or team, there will potentially become a growing sense of frustration, confusion, and disunity.
#1. Commitment. No one wants to be part of a group where folks are not committed. It is the worst. Commitment by all to meeting and communicating with one another consistently and regularly is crucial to a great group experience.
#2. Punctuality. Here we are talking about being on time. Are you someone who is typically on time or are you usually late for meetings and appointments? For those of you who are constantly late, in love I want to tell you...your tardiness drives others crazy! Sure, I get that we are all late from time to time, and we must show one another grace in that. But if you are someone who is regularly late to meetings and group gatherings, this is something you should work to change. A commitment to punctuality communicates to the entire group that you care about them and that you are all in. Be punctual.
#3. Confidentiality. Trust is essential to any great group experience. And trust is built through love and confidentiality. The best groups are those that are safe. Safe for sharing hard things, knowing that individuals will be shown grace and respected with confidentiality.
#4. Leaving your ego at the door. The best groups are made up of individuals who do not make the group all about them. Rather, it is made up of those who practice humility and encouragement, seeking to serve and not be served by others in the group. There is no place for ego in great groups.
#5. A desire to listen and share. Great groups are made up of participants, not simply observers. This means every individual is committed to listening well to others, while also being willing to share. We've all been part of groups where there are those who only seem to listen and it is like pulling teeth to get them to share. This can be tough on a group. At the same time, we have been part of groups where one or two have absolutely no problem sharing, the problem is that all they do is share, share, share, never seeming to care about listening to what others have to say. Making a group great involves each individual being willing to listen well and share honestly.
#6. Being present. Do you ever find yourself being physically located in a place, yet mentally and emotionally absent? I know I do. Sadly, I know there are times that while I am physically in my home, to my wife and kids I am not present. This can easily happen in groups as well. It is crucial that members of a group fight the temptation to "zone out." The best groups help one another fight against this tendancy.
#7. Unplugging. One of the things I have begun to try and implement in some of the groups I lead is to encourage folks to completely unplug during our meeting time together. This is something I have learned from other leaders. No electronics allowed. This includes unplugging from phones, tablets, and computers. It is amazing how addicted we all are to these things. This addiction is the source of constant distraction in a group setting, which hinders communication, displays disrespect, and interferes with one's ability to truly be "present" with the group. It is tough at first, but unplug. Your group will be healthier and grow tighter with one another as a result.
As you look at these 7 ingredients, which do you need to begin helping to implement in the groups you are part of?