What do you do when you have people in your group who just don’t seem very committed? Maybe they really were faithful at the beginning and they came every single week and they were engaged in the discussion, but then something happened. Maybe it was life circumstances, but what it feels like to you is that they’ve just lost interest. Now they don’t come consistently and they don’t let anybody know when they’re not going to be there.
As the leader, what do you do? The first step is to deal with this behavior preemptively. Consider drafting up a group agreement at the start of the small group experience where you talk through the value and priority of the group meeting and of the relationships. Let the group agree on the expectations of attending every meeting or letting someone know if they’re not going to make it. Going through these expectations ahead of time will make it easier for you to have the conversation later, if issues arise.
But what if you’ve been leading a group for a while and your members’ interest is waning and they just aren’t showing up? This is when you, as the leader, need to reach out to them relationally. Pick up the phone or send them an email. Just let them know that you miss them. Let them know that they’re part of the family, that you want them there. Don’t do anything that belittles them or shames them or confronts them in any way. Just reach out to them and let them know that you want them as part of the group.
If their disinterest and lack of commitment continues to persist, you might need to actually sit down with them and have a conversation. Just make sure you do this apart from a group meeting, so as not to embarrass or humiliate them. And in this situation, it’s always good to employ the principle of “seek first to understand before being understood.” You never know if there is something going on behind the scenes in a person’s life that is impacting their ability to be involved in the group. So you always want to give them the opportunity to share or let you know that something is indeed going on with them so they can receive the much-needed grace.
If difficulties continue to arise and they are really showing very little interest, even after the conversation, you may need to sit down with them again and simply give them an out, in a gracious way. Gently explain the issue again and let them know that taking a step back and having a break from the small group is OK. This will allow them to perhaps step back in at some later point and it also allows those who are in the group to keep going on and be committed to one another.
Although having these types conversations take a lot of courage and discernment especially to know when and how to say them, they’re extremely important to the health of your small group.
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