Release Your Group Members!

Welcome aboard to about 90 new subscribers to this blog this past week! You may have been a part of some recent training seminar I led, or perhaps you found the blog by accident. But I’m glad you’re now starting to get these daily Monday-Friday posts! As an FYI, here is the schedule on the blog:

Monday – Book excerpt…I introduce you to a book, quote a paragraph or two, and then apply it

Tuesday – Teaching tip…something you can use in your group next time you teach

Wednesday – Original post on anything related to group ministry

Thursday – Original post on anything related to group ministry

Friday – Hot Links to others articles and podcasts from trusted friends and resources

Today’s Monday, so you know what that means, it’s book excerpt day! Today’s post is taken from the book 3 Roles For Guiding Groups that David Francis and I co-authored a couple of years ago. Let me start out with a question before I quote from the book.

How many people belong to your Bible study group? Oh wait – I misspoke – it’s not really your group, is it? The group is a part of Jesus’ church, His body. I’m a group leader at my church just like many of you, but “my” group isn’t really my group – it belongs to the Lord. It contains His people. I’m just a temporary teacher-shepherd, trusted by Him to feed His lambs. So when it comes to letting people leave the group to start another one, or releasing them to serve in the church’s kid, student, or adult ministries, why are so many group leaders overprotective of “their” people? It’s not uncommon to hear a teacher tell a staff person, “Don’t take those people out of my group – we worked hard to get them – you’ll ruin our group!” There are staff leaders who actually avoid recruiting people from certain adult groups because the staff person knows he’ll have a fight on his hands with the group’s leader! That’s terrible.

In 3 Roles For Guiding Groups, David and I say the following in a section on the importance of releasing people (p.35).

The second key result for those who excel in the leader role is the number of people the group has serving with kids and students. Track it. Celebrate it. Put posters and photos of the group’s ‘missionaries to kids’ on the wall. Talk it up. Invite them to all the parties. Assign them to the best Care Group leader…treat them like celebrities…but be willing to release them. Your group should be a clearing house, not a storehouse! The ‘win’ is not how big you can grow your group, but how many people you can send out to serve.

Hold onto your people with a loose grip – they really aren’t your people after all! Please don’t be “that guy” or “that gal” who aggressively protects his or her group members. Instead, be known as the supportive, people-releasing, loose-grip holding teacher/shepherd/leader who sees the bigger picture and loves to support the church by encouraging group members to leave and serve in other places.

Bonus thought: If you look at Acts 13:1-3, you’ll see the church at Antioch. It had lots of great leaders. Paul/Saul and Barnabas were among them. The Holy Spirit told members of that church to set aside Paul and Barnabas for missionary work – the church was to release two of their very best leaders. And so they did. Guess what? The church at Antioch didn’t collapse. It didn’t cave in when two good people left the group – the church kept right on going. And so will you and your Bible study group as you release people! I promise, the walls won’t fall in and your group will be just fine. Hold onto “your” people with a loose, loose grip.

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