I love them more than they truly know.
Sitting on the white cushioned rocking chair in the upstairs room tucked behind my church’s sanctuary, I looked at the sets of eyes peering back at me. Still masked, the five women in my small group had walked through two hundred-plus days with this room being a constant. One dealing with divorce, again. One hurting from a family member who kept causing hurt. One fighting newfound anxiety that forever altered her life.
We talked. We found truth in the parables of Jesus that pointed back to purpose in pain. We dug into the very core of the simple but life-changing beauty of what it means to be a Christian. But the time kept ticking and summer months began to roll in, meaning a break from our regular meeting cadence.
I have to admit that deep down I know I could use a recharge.
Even when we love the girls, women, couples, and incredible image bearers of God in our small groups, we as small group leaders are still limited, dependent on our Savior to recharge and refill us so that we can keep pouring out to fill others. For many of us, the summer months provide this type of break.
How do we make the most of it? How can we take the interruption from our normal summer meeting cadence to rest as a small group leader? What are ways to practically come into fall, energized and with renewed vision?
- Listen to your group.
As much as we (as leaders) have seen growth in our group members during the past season, they too have likely noticed growth within themselves or others. One of the greatest ways we can be encouraged and recharged ourselves is to give people space to encourage and recharge each other.
We call it “honor time” at my church. At the end of your regular meeting cadence, set aside time in your group to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10, ESV). Open the floor for people to call out how they’ve seen Christ at work in each other’s lives throughout this small group season. This can include personal encouragement to each individual as well as general favorite moments from the group. This allows you to remember how, ultimately, it’s not you leading the group but the Lord through His Spirit who is at work through you. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you feel.
- Celebrate the growth.
You’ve spent time preparing to lead your small group. Throughout the week and even during your preparation, you prayed for your small group members.
Through prayer, celebrate the wins you’ve seen of group members. Did they grow in a fruit of the Spirit that has meant a real-life transformation of a relationship? Thank the Lord for it and celebrate through prayer. Did one of your group members begin her wrestling with a new topic? Celebrate what the Lord is doing in her life through prayer. Are you just personally thankful for the ways that you see the image of God specifically in each of them? Celebrate through prayer.
These moments of praising the Lord for the people He’s partially entrusted to us recharges us by reminding us of what He’s doing. It takes the pressure off of us to “fix” and “lead” and puts it back into thankfulness for the gifts the Lord has given.
- Intentionally replace.
You’ve developed a rhythm of meeting with your group. You have a normal pause when you typically meet. Instead of allowing that space to be filled with demands of your day-to-day life, save that space. Even if it is just for one or two times, seek to fill that time in your schedule with intentional replacements that actually recharge you.
This isn’t time spent preparing for how you’re going to pour into others. It’s a time where you can connect with the Lord in ways that are particularly sweet to you. Ask yourself, How can I chase what is worshipful? This might look like creative expression: listening to a song or writing a poem. It might look like physical activity: a prayer walk. It could look contemplative: finding a special place to sit and rest in a foundational psalm.
Whatever you choose, recenter in the truth of God’s Word that will bring rest to your soul and remind you of that which doesn’t change: Him, His Word, His promises. The truest, lasting, and full recharging we find is being reinfused with the truth that stays constant, no matter what our small group brought last year and no matter what joys and challenges lie ahead in the next.
Fellow small group leaders and avid disciples, well done. You’ve been faithful to love God through your service— especially in our failing moments—and to love other people this past year.
May we all find ways to tuck rest into our summers. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). May we be recharged with the power of the gospel to cling more closely to the One who is holding us to Himself. May we be refreshed to keep leading people in the coming months.
Deborah Spooner is a Minnesota-born analytical creative serving as a Marketing Strategist for Lifeway’s Groups Ministry. As a pastor’s daughter with an educational background in Biblical & Theological Studies and Digital Communications & Media, you can find her at her local church, in deep conversation, or with a book or pen in hand as she seeks to know Christ more and make Him known.