Empowerment Leadership Model for Small Groups, Teams, & Families
Course 4, Lesson 11
How to Help Your Group Obey "The Togethers"
Copyright 2001 Dick Wulf
Note: Whenever "group" or "team" is used, it can mean "group", "team", or "family".
It is the church, Christians gathered, that is the apple of God’s eye. We like to think often about how each of us individually is special to God. But none of us is as cherished by God as is the church, the people of God, the bride of Christ, the army of God, the body of Christ -- the people of that society of God known as the kingdom of heaven. Since the church is so important to God, those things he tells us to do together must be critically important and necessary. Those things include the 65 “Togethers of Scripture". It is not possible to really please God apart from Christian community.
And Christian community cannot exist in small groups unless those groups make available the time it takes for community. Community is not just being in a room together, nor is it what we commonly call fellowship. Community is deeper relationships between believers, with Jesus included.
Only in community can the Bible be more than superficially obeyed. How do you encourage another - one of the commands often repeated in Scripture - alone? You can’t. And how do you encourage in a larger group? Only inadequately. No, it takes the closeness and trust within a friendship, family, marriage, or small group to actually review the assignments God has given to each person and then infuse courage.
Only through small groups does a church go past programs to the people, beyond Bible study to Bible obedience, and over and above knowledge to Christlike love. Only in this way is God taken seriously about all those things He has said He wants done. Only in groups that have most of their time set aside for personal involvement among members will true community, and thus true obedience, take place.
Obeying The Togethers, those 65 things derived from Scriptures that talk about biblical relationships, is the responsibility of the group you lead, no matter if that is a group specifically established for spiritual community or a team, church committee, or any other type of group. God should be obeyed whenever two or more Christians get together for anything. Even a fishing trip requires The Togethers.
Therefore, it is the job of the group leader to help the group implement the Togethers and do those things which God asks. This starts with the group leader becoming more than just familiar with The Togethers. These can be studied at our other web site ChristiansTogether.org.
TOGETHERS OF RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Whenever Christians get together they are to relate to one another in a way that honors God. Therefore, the Togethers of Relationship with God are critically important. During the beginning weeks of a group, the leader will assess if group members realize that Jesus is in the room with them, that God the Father is aware of them, and that the Holy Spirit is trying to empower them to relate to one another in love. If the group leader determines that the group is not so aware, then he or she will interject brief comments to bring this to their attention.
Worship God Together
The group can either glorify God or degrade Him. Many believe that anything reflecting back to God his own character is worship. There are many biblical instructions for Christian relationships that when obeyed do, in fact, reflect God's nature back to Him. For example, when we forgive another person and re-start godly interaction, we reflect what God does with us - and, therefore, it is worship.
The group will need leadership to learn to relate to God in this worshipful way. Each Together is actually an act of worship in that the Christians involved are reflecting back to God His own character. Some of these Together Acts of Worship are much more expensive in love than singing in church. Some are not easy and comfortable, and that is just what makes them tremendous, loving worship.
As a group meets week after week and month after month it is the group leader's privilege and responsibility to help the group relate to God together. The group leader will need to help the group and its members go past individual autonomy regarding relationship with God. For example, when they pray, they should usually use the word "we" rather than "I" as in, "We thank You for being with us tonight, Dear Lord." (It is more usual that a person prays, "I thank You, Lord, for being with us tonight.")
Submit to God Together
The most successful groups are those that seek God's direction. The group leader of a Christian group helps the group do things God's way.
Together Be Led By Jesus Christ
Christian groups are to take their purpose from Jesus and follow him. There may be times when the group leader has to remind the group that Jesus is with them when they gather in His name and He might lead them in a better way.
Communicate With God Together
Often a Christian group will forget to talk to God about what they are doing and how they are going about it. A group leader, because he or she is not a part of the group process and is sitting back and watching, will see that there is too little communication with God for direction.
Serve God Together
It will help group members to recognize that in meeting together they are serving God. Doing so is quite a privilege. The group leader will notice if the group of Christians does not see the group in light of the kingdom of God.
If the group leader helps the group help its members obey the Attitudinal Togethers, increasing godliness will be the result. Christians need one another's help to become more Christlike.
It may seem that individual responsibility is all that is needed with the attitudinal togethers. It may be that these attitudes take root in the mind of the individual primarily through Bible study. Yet, God decreed that no individual can do much of anything without the help of other Christians. If Adam needed Eve's help (and vice versa) before he was sinful, then the group members need each others' help to develop these Attitudinal Togethers.
Love One Another
Agape love, which is self-denial for another's good, is the premier Christian quality and should permeate group process and group member relationships. Most group members will act loving, but when the going gets tough, weakness in love will show up. The group needs to help its members grow in self-denial and love when this happens. Of course, the group leader may have to help the group do this.
Belong to One Another
The attitude of belonging, which should permeate the group, requires that each individual accept the responsibility of belonging to the group, not only in his or her private thoughts but during the actual group meeting. A practical result of this will be that members make other people's concerns and problems their own. Rather than wishing that the group would hurry up and get over helping another so that he or she can get on to his or her concern, group members must work at remembering that the other person's concern is their concern.
The group leader will notice that this kingdom attitude of belonging to each other is largely missing in some of the group members. For some reason, most likely the reality and training of their growing-up years, some group members will be held hostage by their own needs. This is understandable when a person is going through a crisis, but otherwise self-focus is well-ingrained and even disastrously supported by the individualistic Christianity that dominates believers and the church. The group leader can gently suggest that the group do something to help everyone's concerns belong to everyone else.
Be Devoted to One Another
Group members need to set themselves aside to be devoted to one another's concerns, group participation, and personal success in the group. It is more lonely to be overlooked in a group than being alone. The group leader might notice that someone's concern might not be discussed as are the concerns of others, for example, and then mention that the group can give praise to God by devotion to every person's concerns, ideas, and needs.
Accept One Another
With regard to "Accept One Another" the group leader will watch for judgmental, negative comments. At an appropriate time, the group leader can teach this Together with its biblical foundations and give to the group the task of helping all members resist superior attitudes and embrace differences with acceptance. The successful group leader will not make a Bible study out of this, but fit the teaching to something going on in the group that requires acceptance in action. In many ways, this is the best way to teach godly behavior - doing it rather than merely talking about it.
Bear With One Another
With regard to "Bear with One Another" the group leader needs to watch for feelings like disgust in the group. Christians, even in fun activities, are not to be primarily in the group for fun at the cost of concern other group members. Enjoyment and comfort are good, but sometimes the group and group members will need to put up with a group member's irritating behavior. Because God asks it of Christians. Because God puts up with us continually. The group leader can ask the group as a whole things like, "Are you having trouble with something going on in the group?" During the group's work on resolving irritation, the group leader can teach this Together and point out the responsibility to tolerate things that are bothersome. The group leader will also tell the group to analyze if the irritation or sin needs to be dealt with to achieve the group purpose.
Forgive One Another Without Being Asked
At times in a group forgiveness will be necessary. This is one of the Togethers that a group and its members may be ready for. The group leader just watches to see if group members know how to have an attitude of automatic forgiveness. When the group leader sees people becoming easily offended, he or she will have to address the Togethers of bearing with and automatically forgiving for the good of God's kingdom as well as the group purpose.
Submit to One Another
Christians are to let other people have their way in the group and not be selfish. If any group member is pushing his or her desires with selfish force, the group will need to deal with it. The group leader will mention to the group that trouble might be ahead if the group does not teach its members to submit to one another. The leader might suggest that the group help members be aware of how their own needs affect their interactions with the other members. Compromise or "win-win solutions" may be called for.
Serve One Another
It is often necessary for group members to serve one another for the sake of the group purpose. This can take many forms: giving advice, praying, sharing Scriptures, encouraging, being friendly. The group should help its members all develop a servant attitude. Usually groups will do this naturally, but if not the leader helps.
TOGETHERS THAT HOLD TOGETHER
Group cohesion is vital. Group members need to be held together, and some of The Togethers are critical for this to happen. The group needs to see these things happen for the group to stay together.
Live as Citizens of Heaven
The group and its members will stick together better if they remember that they are citizens of heaven with extra resources and biblical values. Since the group and its members may be more connected to the cultural values of the world, it may only be the group leader that recognizes wayward decisions and actions.
Meet Together Regularly
The group leader needs to help the group if it becomes too lenient in excusing its members' absences. Perhaps the meeting time needs to be changed to assure more attendance. Or perhaps the group needs to discuss the value each member has to the group and what is missed when each one is absent.
Live Together in Unity
When a group starts there is not automatic unity because of so many different personalities. The group needs to deal with whatever issues impede unity, which should be there just because everyone belongs to Christ. But, as the group gets deeper into its work on its purpose, many other things can come up to challenge unity. The group leader helps the group identify threats to unity early for damage control, especially those things that come up that places individual desires more important than giving Jesus unity.
Live Together in Peace
Quarrels in the group can threaten peace in the group. The group leader helps the group reestablish peacefulness perhaps by suggesting that the group can agree that it is okay to disagree, and pointing out that it is not functional to personally attack another member. The group needs to get every member involved to resolve quarrels, perhaps by getting those not involved in the disagreement to summarize the two different people's views and encourage them to allow each other to differ in opinion. The group leader should help the group spot disagreements early before they break the peace between members.
Be Humble With One Another
A group that helps its members be humble will not lose members who feel put down or humiliated. But, the group has also to defeat false humility where people downplay their God-given talents. The group leader may have to model dealing with arrogance by showing the group how to politely ask for clarification of what is meant. Usually when a person has to say something a second time it doesn't sound so arrogant because they are more comfortable saying it after receiving a friendly reception. The repetition will hopefully expose their humility. If not, the leader can suggest the group continue to ask questions to see if humility will surface. In the event that it does not, the group leader can then point out that the group needs to clarify to the seemingly arrogant group member that his or her attitude could be mistaken for arrogance and his or her contributions ignored out of growing dislike for the person's demeanor.
Live Together in Harmony
With respect to harmony, the group needs to help each group member do what is their part in the discussions and activities of the group. Since the small group should operate like an orchestra with each person having an important part to play skillfully for the Lord, the group leader may have to direct the way, like an orchestra conductor.
Show Mercy and Be Compassionate
Since all group members are going to make mistakes, no humans being perfect, the group will need to be merciful and compassionate. The group leader may occasionally need to help the group deal biblically with mistakes.
Meet One Another's Needs
Most groups will not need to be concerned that its members have the basics of life. However, there are other needs such as friendliness, acceptance, considerate interaction, gentle reminders, and the like. If a group does not deliver these expected things, the group leader may have to spark a discussion of what group members need as people.
TOGETHERS THAT STRENGTHEN
Christians need one another in order to become really strong. Therefore, it is important that the group do those things which will build others up and do nothing which will tear them down or make them feel worthless.
Be Hospitable With One Another
The group leader watches the group to see if every member is truly included, not just sitting in the room. And, if group members are inviting other group members to their home, is everyone being invited, at least occasionally? If some are left out, the group leader tries to analyze if they do not want to be any more involved than attending group meetings. A lack of hospitality, whether sparse friendliness and inclusion during group meetings or social invitations, will not necessarily be a hindrance to working toward the group purpose. But, non-attendance, which will negatively affect the group's work, is sometimes a sign that the person or couple feels left out.
Treat One Another Equally
The group leader may notice that the group and/or its members are giving special treatment or paying inordinate amount of attention to a particular group member. While this may not impede progress toward the purpose, it may become unbiblical. First and foremost is that the group leader do not do the same. Leading the group means talking to the whole group and paying attention to the whole group. If the group leader shows preferential treatment, it can be quite damaging to the group as a whole. On the other hand, if the group leader is not drawn in, exhibiting a marvelous skill, then he or she can point out to the group that it is under-functioning by not acquiring the contributions of each of its members.
Share With One Another
It will strengthen the group if there is sharing of possessions. While this may not be directly connected to the group purpose, it can indirectly contribute to making the group stronger. If, however, anyone misuses the privilege of using someone else's possession, then the group will have to deal with it and see that it is made right.
Administer God's Grace to One Another
One of the most exciting experiences as a group leader of Christians is to see the working of God that is not contrived by the group or its members. Usually this will come about through synergy with God's gifts of His Spirit coming out, largely unnoticed by the contributing members. In the end, the group leader will see something very good happen that was unplanned by the group but orchestrated by the Lord. Since this observation may bypass the group and its members because they were concentrating on getting something else done, the group leader will want to point it out.
Speak to One Another Truthfully and Helpfully
The talented group leader will notice when the group is not helping with truthful comments that are needed but not comfortable to make. To be successful, group members need to learn how to do uncomfortable interaction when needed. The group leader will need to give the work to the group of discussing how it wants to point out disagreements, handle confronting members who are behaving in a way that is detrimental to the accomplishment of the group purpose, etc.
Encourage One Another
Since in any group God will be pushing for great obedience, spiritual growth, and increasing Christian community, a group needs to become very good at placing courage into itself and its members. Every assignment from God since the simple one given Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is beyond an individual's power. Therefore, additional courage is always needed if the "easiest yet less biblical way out" is not taken. The group leader will recognize when additional courage is needed and the group does not recognize it or does not have enough courage itself.
Honor One Another
The way for the group to continue to get better and better contributions from its members is to recognize and honor through compliments exceptional contributions. If a group does its work of helping its members contribute their skills to the group effort, every group member will be honored every once in a while.
Commend One Another
When a group or a group member requests a contribution from another group member because of proven past contribution, that is commendation (recommendation). This should happen fairly regularly. If it does not, then the group leader mentions that the group does not seem to be bringing out the best from its members as shown in their previous contributions.
Spur One Another On to Love and Good Deeds
Good things that should be done in the name of the Lord will present themselves from time to time during group life. Those might be things that can be done by one group member, a couple of group members, or the group as a whole. If those good things that might be done relate to the group purpose, the group leader will want to make sure the group applies pressure for it to be done. If it does not directly apply to the group purpose, the group leader will only deal with it if it becomes a recurring theme or thought, possibly indicating the leading of God.
TOGETHERS THAT HEAL
Much of the healing God wants for his people He does through deeper Christian relationships marked by costly love. Christians need one another in healing from sin and hurt.
Hurt With One Another
There necessarily are hurtful times during the life of a group. Often they are the result of obedient speaking the truth in love, as it is usually difficult to take even the most loving correction with joy. After causing necessary pain, the group and its members should hurt with the one experiencing pain. This usually just means recognizing the pain and reassuring of love. The group leader may have to point this out to the group.
Comfort One Another
After sharing the hurt, the group can comfort a hurting member by any number of loving actions, including an arm around the shoulder or partaking of "comfort food". Sometimes singing Christian songs and hymns can comfort. Prayer is dynamic for this comforting purpose. The group may try to bypass this out of its own discomfort of someone hurting in their midst, perhaps by their own actions. Then the group leader will have to encourage them to comfort. Just giving this task to the group is believing in them and, thus, encouragement.
Confess Sins to One Another
A group where it is safe to admit mistakes will become a group with superior performance. Nothing holds back group success like group members insisting that they do nothing wrong, that they are never dysfunctional. As soon as there is resistance in the group to admitting an error, the group leader will point out to the whole group that is will need to work on making the group a place where people can safely admit they are wrong, perhaps being the first such safe environment ever for some members.
Carry One Another's Burdens
Often it is easier to pick up the pieces of another's mistake than of one's own. That is probably why God put the command to carry one another's burdens in the middle of a Bible passage talking about sin (Galatians 6:2). Jesus knew we could not pay the penalty for our own sin and God knows that often we cannot right our own wrongs. And, it is always easier to rectify a situation together rather than individually. Therefore, the group leader will encourage the group as a whole to get involved when someone hurts another's feelings rather than just sit back and let the offending person do all of the curative work.
Restore One Another in the Faith
One very powerful thing a group can do that is often too much for individuals is put someone's faith back together. This may be necessary in any Christian group because we do have Satan as a brilliant enemy and he is constantly trying to destroy our faith. Any purpose of a Christian group requires faith, or it should. Therefore, it is the group's responsibility to help restore people whenever they go backwards in their faith. Occasionally it will be necessary for the group leader to point out that someone needs to be restored. The group or group leader may have to remind that it is good for everyone to not consider themselves immune from doubts and falling away from the faith. If the Apostle Peter could deny Christ after all the love and miracles he had personally experienced, then every Christian can certainly fall. Therefore, a humble attitude while restoring another in his faith is merely being in touch with reality.
This was Part One. Now, go to see how the group leader
can help with the other 30 Togethers.
Copyright 2013 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA