- Groups should ensure that their two primary reasons for meeting are for building relationships and accomplishing mission or tasks. Their community together should have an impact on their mission or task. Early in the life of the group a great deal of time should be invested in members getting to know each other. Since there is not always preparation time to do this in advance, mission or task groups should take time out to invest in their relationships while in the midst of their task.
- Groups too often allow the “things” around them to block the development of their life together. In our high-tech world, a group may allow a grandfather clock to interrupt an intimate moment, be distracted by a glowing television, be unable to hear through a loud stereo, be unnerved by the sudden ring of a telephone, or be disrupted by the need to let out the cat. Some of these interruptions may not be preventable, but many are. The good things of creation can rob us of the presence of one another as well as the presence of God. There is something to be said for the Quaker silence of presence when two or three gather together to listen for God and to hear one another.
- There are good reasons to have only men or only women in a small group, particularly if group members are wrestling with the freedom to share themselves and the opposite sex is seen as a threat or a stumbling block. However, over the long haul, if men or women only meet with their same sex they will never come to the potential place of seeing or hearing the complete character of God. Small groups are places for us to come to know God in fullness and depth. One-sex groups carry an inherent limitation toward this ultimate discovery.
- If groups can truly discover God in community, then one thing a small group might consider is reflecting back upon their life together and sharing how God has been discovered or more fully known through the experience of this group. This discussion could also be from the negative side: How has this group inhibited or blocked my relationship with God? But to share such a negative perspective would usually be too confrontational or would degenerate into a passing of judgment or condemnation. Such interaction around the negative needs strong leadership and careful monitoring. Positive sharing of life usually leads to group building. The positive sharing of the group’s life together as a reflection of the nature of God could be a powerful formational process.
Gareth Weldon Icenogle, Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry: An Integrative Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993).