Home > Uncategorized > A Different Way to Lead a Small Group

A Different Way to Lead a Small Group

If you are a small group leader or attend a small group, I would be interested to know what you think of this article.  I don’t want to poison the well by telling you all the parts I like and don’t like; instead, I am very interested in other opinions.  I’ll give you a couple of my comments to start, then ask that you chime in.

For example, he says:

Well, one thing that really disturbs me about today’s accountability movement is that the actual term, accountability, is not really what we should be shooting for. It’s also not really what we want to accomplish. God asks us to engage in loving relationships. First Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” So we’re not supposed to keep an account. There’s no Scriptural idea of an accountability partner. It’s unloving to get in a relationship where someone else is keeping records for you.

I like the term editability, because what we’re really after is someone to think so much of us that they want our voice to come out—they want us to look better, to sound better, and to communicate better. And that’s what an editor does. A good editor helps you correct what you voluntarily bring to them, and then they take that piece of paper and tear it up. It’s never referred to again.

That’s different kind of thinking from what I’m used to, but I’m warming to it.  Accountability has a connotation (to me – but it’s probably just me) of telling others how to live and being very free with advice, rather than helpfully speaking into anothers life situation.


(Q:) That kind of makes me curious—if Joe Myers were to lead a small group, what would it look like during the actual meeting?

Well, let’s say I had eight people come over to my house. First of all, we would have food. And I would watch how people naturally are breaking up into twos, threes, fours. There would probably be one group of four, a group of two, another group of three, and then one person who’s kind of a roamer. I would take advantage of that.

I would probably avoid gathering everyone into a big circle. Instead, I would start doing the “discussion” lesson with the largest cluster—the group of four. I’d say, “Hey, as you guys are just talking here, why don’t you start talking about these three questions?” or, “Why don’t the four of you pray for this one particular person?” And then I’d go to the next group of two and say the same thing. Eventually, our group would have four or five different kinds of experiences going on, all focusing on the same idea or subject. I just think that would be better than me trying to get everyone to cooperate with the experience I want them to have.

Since I am more focused on building a common experience with my small group, this pattern doesn’t resonate with me.  But I’m open to what others think.  I’m mainly posting this to help myself become a better small group leader, and was hopeful that our readers could help me!!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I think Myers is on the mark with his comments about organic community. In fact, except for his perspective on accountability, I think he’s on the mark for all the reasons the article suggests. We should encourage our folks to have a few friends in their life with whom they meet regularly, discuss scriptural truths and ask each other hard questions. It’s not important what they call it and it’s not important that everyone’s group uses the same format. But the intimate relationships are important. Beyond that, the “small group” could take on any of a thousand different forms.

    As to accountability, I just don’t agree with him. All of scripture calls us to relationships with others who will love us enough to ask us hard questions. They hold us accountable to a relationship with Christ. The key is: accountability is not something I go and do to someone else (who isn’t interested)…it is something I pull up around myself in order to keep growing in my relationship with God.

  2. October 9, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Just read the Myer article again. Maybe it’s not the concept of accountability he doesn’t like–maybe it’s just the word. His concern seems to be HOW we do it, not whether we do it. One thing we can all agree about is that LOVE is the only right motive for doing it. Any other motive (like protecting the church or satisfying the elders, etc.) is wrong.

  3. jlemke
    October 9, 2008 at 9:44 am

    You said accountability “is something I pull up around myself in order to keep growing in my relationship with God.”

    I like that. In your view, it seems like accountability is what I ask for, not what someone else does “to” me. My observation from some accountability relationships is that it’s one person shoving their views on to another. Myers is avoiding that, and from that standpoint I like the article.

    I was curious what you thought of his model for a small group, where everyone is working sort of separately on the same questions or ideas. Does that work for you?

  4. Brian McLaughlin
    October 9, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Its important to understand Joseph Myers and where he is coming from. In The Search To Belong he talks a lot about different people needing different things. For example, some people don’t want small group intimacy, so we shouldn’t force it (which churches tend to do). He seems to go in the opposite direction here in going smaller but the point is still the same: keep it natural based upon what the people need. There is some tremendous benefit in that because we need to recognize that people learn and grow in different ways. I don’t know how I would lead the small group he describes, but if it fits the people he has in it, beautiful.

  5. October 9, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    I agree with Brian (and Joe, apparently). I think the point is to avoid forcing our small groups into a “cookie cutter” formula that may not be meeting the perceived needs of some. Some folks may need a support group (a small group where everyone has a common issue), others may want an accountability group, others a Bible study, others a prayer group, others a social outlet, and others a traditional Sunday School class. Some may want a combination of these things. The point is, let people grow in the areas they want to grow in first. Let the groups form and morph freely. I like that. But it requires leadership who is on board with that and who has some ability to discern.

  6. Gary
    October 9, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Seems to me whether one likes it or not, comfortable or not, a family atmosphere and fellowship with other believers is biblical and necessary. A major component of the assembly is the edification and fellowship of the believer, and it is very hard to accomplish in a few structured hours on Sunday morning.

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