Don’t see yourself as the leading type? If you have a desire to discover your Spiritual Gifts in a group setting where you can both encourage and learn from others, then don’t underestimate how the Lord can equip you. If it helps, don’t think of yourself as a leader, but rather the organizer or facilitator. Any group needs this kind of glue to function, and realize that all the participants of a small group – even the leader – are there to learn.
Taking on this role, however, is a commitment you should not take lightly. You will need to read and be ready to discuss each lesson. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar or feel like you have all the answers. As a group you are all there to discover as many answers as possible as a team. This workbook is designed to be interactive with activities and questions. It is also good to have some of your questions tailored to your specific group in order to draw out the more reluctant participants of the group. It is not your role to lecture the group, but to encourage as much participation from every member as possible. The most withdrawn person could have incredible insight to share, but not realize that her thoughts might be useful to others.
Besides the study there are other responsibilities that you can take care of yourself but it is even better find a member of the group to oversee each of the following areas:
- Caring for the Group: Keep attendance records and call members that have not shown up for two or more meetings in a row. Make sure there is not something seriously wrong that is keeping him from the group. Let him know that he is missed and offer to pray for any concerns he has. If a member has a real problem then the group should offer support. Send a sympathy card, organize meals, do some yard work, pray together or find another suitable way to care. This person could also organize a snack sign up if your group decides to make this a part of your regular meetings.
- Mission Activities: Since the whole point of spiritual gifts is to use them in service to others it is almost essential that mission work is done as a part of your study. I recommend 3 activities throughout the study.
1) Volunteer within the church (or your group). If you have the occasion to care for a member in the ways mentioned above that would count for this task. If you are meeting within a church let your church leadership know that you have a group who would like to volunteer.
2) Volunteer within the community. Find a shelter, school or non-profit organization that has a project suitable for your group.
3) Give. Whether with money or needed items, it is important to understand the joy and necessity of giving to those in need. A more detailed explanation of mission projects in relationship to Spiritual Gifts along with a list of specific suggestions is available in the workbook.
- Deeper Learning: You could bring a Bible Dictionary and find a volunteer each week to take it home and come back the next week with new information to share with the group. You could rotate each person being in charge of a short devotion at the beginning of each meeting. You could find one person willing to take on the challenge of researching some additional information to add to the lesson each week or provide a small library of study material to have at each meeting. The idea is to teach the members how to dig into the Word of God and value learning.
- Prayer: One of the most important functions of a small group is having a place to bring your prayer concerns. Allow time at each meeting to share joys and concerns and time to give thanks and pray together. The Bible says there is power in numbers and those in need can have the assurance that others are joining them in prayer. Having everyone note the concerns or one person that can do that and e-mail those requests to the whole group will reinforce the need for continued prayer. Each meeting should open and close in prayer. You can ask for a different volunteer each week. Or to spur more participation, stand in a circle and encourage everyone to say one short line of thanks or prayer. If someone is very uncomfortable they can simply tap the person next to them to signal them to move on. It is important that people are not forced to pray out loud until they are ready.
As your group matures, search for other potential leaders within the group. For one thing there may come a time when you are sick or out of town and someone else may need to fill in. I could also happen that your group grows beyond a number that functions well as a small group. It is a healthy thing for a small group to grow and divide. Pulling another leader from the existing group will help with this type of transition.
As a leader you should take notes on what you observe about every member that would give you clues to how they are gifted. At the end of the Exercising the Body of Christ workbook everyone will have the opportunity to share his insights as part of discovering or confirming the gifts of the other members of the group.
A leader of any group would benefit from finding a book on how to lead a small group. How do you handle difficult people? What happens when you don’t know the answers? How do you draw someone out of her shell? There are countless issues that can come up, but the most important thing to remember is that God knows the answers and will gift and equip you to handle every situation into which He calls you.