I have always been a strong advocate for balanced groups. I believe groups are best aligned for growth when the members of the group share a formative, caring, and missional focus. The following ideas might make it easier to begin developing that kind of shared focus.
1. Build authentic relationships. Caring for one another and forming one another will happen much more effectively if everyone in your group feels comfortable with one another. Spend time every time you’re together asking and answering questions about each other. Good questions can often launch your group into fruitful inter-personal discussion. Consider using the following questions with each other over a several week period:
· Who are your heroes?
· What are your strengths?
· What unique skills do you have?
· What are your most important beliefs?
· What things do you value?
· What is the mission of your life?
· What things always keep your interest?
· What do you dream about doing?
· What are the key events of your life?
· What is something we need to know about you?
Modify the questions for your group, or use completely different ones. The key is to spend time getting to know one another a little bit better.
2. Set aside time for "Gift Discovery". Allow time on a regular basis to talk about the gifts and talents you see in each other. Discuss how each person might be able to use their gifts to serve in the church as well as to serve those in the world around them. Encourage each person to commit themselves to serving, and hold one another accountable for the commitments made. A healthy group will also use this opportunity to help people realize when they are over-committed or perhaps serving in a venue they are not gifted for.
3. Encourage application. When you study the Bible, take time to talk about how the truths will practically impact people's lives. Allow each person the opportunity to discuss the things in their life they need to change. Take time as a group to follow up on commitments made.
4. Talk about being missional. Schedule time when your group can get together to do something which will show Christ's love to your community. Take time to call Rescue Missions, Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores, or local schools to discover opportunities and schedule a time for your group. If you can’t set a time when you can serve together, take a week off from your meeting and use that time to get out and show Jesus’ love.