MakingSmallGroupsWorkMembers of good groups adopt the stance that risks are normal and expected. Risk is an essential part of group and produces great effects in people. I (John) have seen people with smaller problems who took little risks and received little benefit. And I have seen people with huge problems who took great risks, and they ended up much better off than those in the first group.

I remember conducting a group that included a mature, professional person, much respected by the other members. Yet he was so intent on getting his spiritual and emotional work done that he would sometimes collapse into heaving, wracking, almost uncontrollable sobs as he dealt with his past. Like a little baby, he stained his shirt with tears. His face flushed. His nose ran. A couple of group members were discomfited by this and didn’t know what to do. He was just too emotional for them. The rest of the group had deep compassion for him and respected him all the more for what he was doing. As for the man himself, he received great fruits for his risks. He was able to resolve many issues and today is living a meaningful life as a husband, father, successful businessman, and active church member.

When group members take risks, they expose themselves to the possibility of being hurt or embarrassed for the sake of taking a growth step. Like the professional man, they go through discomfort to gain a higher good. They step out of their comfort zone and try something they are afraid to do or experience. Like a person in physical therapy with a stiff and injured limb, they begin to take action to promote healing.

The result can be amazing. People begin to open up, become emotionally available and present, love truth instead of avoiding it, and become freer. These results also translate into many life changes in external circumstances, such as marriage, dating, friendships, parenting, and careers.

Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2010). Making small groups work: what every small group leader needs to know. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.