This blog was originally posted on February 18, 2015
Today’s post follows on from last week’s post on tips from moving from a traditional small group to becoming a missional community. In this post David offers some help on how to engage well with those that might struggle in the transition and don’t want to be part of the new vision you’re sharing.
Having begun in the first post by saying that it is possible to transition a traditional small group to a vision led missional community I am conscious that much of what has been written outlines potential problems. However I do believe that it is something worth doing and that it is not only possible but will bring new life and growth to the group.
However in even the most committed and loyal small group there may be someone who doesn’t feel able to make the transition. At this point you have to decide if you are going to go ahead or remain as you are. I would say that stopping isn’t really an option. In setting out the vision and introducing the idea of transition you will have already enthused some to follow you on the journey. The small group is already in transition. Some will want to move ahead others will want things to stay as they are. You have to recognise that whichever way you go there will be change.
To ensure that the change happens without a huge fallout you need to work out a way for those who do not want to be a part of the new Missional Community to move on from the small group. For some people any change is difficult and needs to be handled sensitively and lovingly. If people move on it is important that they do so without feeling that they have been pushed out. So before you go too far you need to have a positive way of dealing with those who want to remain in a traditional small group. (How you do this and where traditional small groups and Missional Communities fit into the life of a church is probably the subject of another post.)
We moved from traditional small groups to Missional Communities across the whole church and declared an ‘Open Season’ for all our groups. We gave ‘permission’ for everyone to feel free to move groups. Because the process of transition was happening across all the groups in the church it was much easier for people to move.
With one of the groups we helped transition it was clear that not everyone ‘got it’ but their commitment to the leaders and the rest of the group meant that they stayed. Over time they became more involved. In another group those who didn’t want to change left and moved into another small group. Because it was clear from the start that it was alright to move and we provided a positive way for it to be done the upset was minimal.
Be sure: Know that this is a God idea not just a good idea.
Be patient: Not everyone will get it straight away. Don’t rush, take your time.
Room for everyone: Allow everyone in the group to contribute to the discussion.
Space: Allow space for reflection and prayer. Encourage each member of the group to listen to God and each other.
Opportunity to say no and move to a different group: Create a culture that allows people to move on positively and with dignity.
Pray: Lots and lots of prayer!!
David Rosser lives in Durham with his wife Jenny. They have been involved in the development and implementation of missional communities for the past 12 years.