As a Community Group Leader, we exhort you all the time as the leaders on the “front lines” of disciple-making at PV.  Your spiritual and relational investment in your group members naturally leads to your role in helping your group members process through any leadership transitions that might arise within the group or within the larger church.  Given recent events surrounding our succession of lead pastors, here are four guidelines as you engage your group members in this discussion with wisdom and grace.

1) Mourn with them…

One of the characteristics of Jesus’ ministry is that even though He knew the bigger picture of God’s purposes, He still met people where they were.  A great example of this is when He arrived on the scene in Bethany at Lazarus’ death.  Though He knew what purpose Lazarus’ death and subsequent raising would serve in showing Jesus as Lord, even over death, a foreshadowing of His own resurrection, John 11:28-36 describes a Jesus that was “greatly troubled and distressed” over His friends passing.  And on seeing the lifeless Lazarus, the Scriptures simply say… “Jesus wept.”  Weep with your group members.  Mourn whatever it is that they are mourning.  Whether the mourning is related to what the church is having to experience, or the mourning is for a specific person, allow them to grieve the way they need to grieve.  Resist the urge to instruct or correct, but let them feel what they need to feel and talk out what they need to talk out.  As the leader, you will likely have a larger, even more eternal perspective to the current situation, however you must display the compassion and patience of our Lord in the moment of mourning.

2) Help focus toward the godly…

As you mourn with your group members, you will want to be cautious that toxic attitudes and words do not lead to argument and dissension in your group.  Set the stage for your group by reading Phil. 4:8 (ESV)… “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. It is good for your group members to feel what they feel, but they need to articulate those feelings in very personal terms…(e.g., “Because of this event, I feel…”, “Because of my relationship with that person, this is what I am stuck on…”)  Providing a safe place to share can quickly become an avenue by which group members believe their feelings to be unalterable, objective truth, blinded to the larger work that God is doing in everyone’s lives.  The focus on what is godly will help guide your group members to see and hear what is of the Holy Spirit, and decrease the likelihood of being consumed with emotion that is absent of truth.

3) Balance grace AND truth…

The very essence of Jesus’ character is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14b).  You must lead your group members to look upon all parties with the eyes of grace.  None of us know the personal journeys and hearts of each person involved in the transition – only God has that distinct privilege.  Therefore, since we have limited insight into motives, attitudes, and conversations, our very best response is to grant grace to all sides, understanding that the positions of all parties involved must be terribly difficult.   Yet, while granting grace to all individuals involved in the leadership transition, as a group leader, you must help your group recognize the truth that the church belongs only to Jesus and He has promised us that He alone is the one that leads, builds and sustains the church.  In addition, you must remind them of the truth that all of us as members of this local body are responsible to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual building up.” (Rom. 14:19, ESV)

4) Know that trials produce character…

James 1:2-4 (ESV) states that we should, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Though this is a difficult passage to accept and live out, the reality is that God uses difficulties in controversy to build our character.  As you experience this trial as a group, draw members’ attention to the refining work that God is accomplishing in them, personally.  Ask them how they believe God will use this “testing of faith” to produce steadfastness and maturity in them, individually and as a group.  It might take some time to have this conversation, but eventually, you will have to guide group members toward an eternal perspective on the current leadership transition that is before them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s