I’ve been an avid golfer for years now. I only play with Callaway clubs. I only have Titleist golf balls in my bag. At one point, I’d gotten my handicap pretty low, spending way too much time at driving ranges and too many days off on golf courses. But as decent a golfer as I had become, every round I either took a mulligan or wanted to. What’s a mulligan you ask? For all you non-golfers, it’s taking a “make-up” shot after you goofed the first one. It’s a do-over, a second chance, an attempt at redemption. I might have taken a mulligan for a missed putt, an errant drive, or a skulled chip shot. Today as a Bible study leader at my church, I can think of several occasions when it would have been good for me to have taken a mulligan and had a second “shot” at something I’d messed up the first time. In no particular order, here are 3 mulligans that I believe all group leaders should take, including me:
- The Fellowship Mulligan – Most groups would benefit from a greater frequency of fellowships. People get to know one another outside the regular Bible study time. Casual meals, shared experiences, day trips, ministry projects, and other opportunities for relationships to grow and flourish are much too infrequent in many groups.
- The Apprentice Mulligan – The absence of an apprentice group leader is the reason most groups won’t or don’t start new groups. An apprentice leader is the most visible sign that a group is serious about reaching new people by sending that person out as a “missionary” to start a new group. The absence of apprentice group leaders has kept many a church from reaching its growth potential and from making an even greater kingdom impact.
- The Absentee Mulligan – I can think of several people who were once regular members of my Bible study group, but for different reasons they have drifted away from being active and involved. Group leaders should take a mulligan and go after absentees with reckless abandon. My guess is that many group leaders like myself find our focus on the more regular attenders, spending our limited time ministering to the ones who are there week after week. I regret not pursuing several couples over the years who became increasingly irregular in their participation in our group. This is a mulligan I will definitely take going forward.
The good news is that I can take a mulligan any time I want, and so can you. I don’t let the past control me or determine my future. If there is something not quite right about my leadership of my group, I can take a “do-over,” regroup, and go again. Thank goodness for that second shot.
What kind of mulligan do you need to take with regard to the group you lead?