What Issues in Our Group Should I Refer to Someone Else?

What Issues in Our Group Should I Refer to Someone Else?

By Allen White

John Ortberg wrote a book called Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them. I think he was on to something. Group life is messy. People come to our group looking neat and clean. They are well mannered. Then, they start opening up. Group is a safe place to share the stuff that they’re wrestling with, and then the problems come out. Rather than throwing your hands up in the air, congratulation yourself. Your group is actually working. If no one in your group has a problem, then your group has a problem. But, that’s for another day.
The question, then, is not if a group member has a problem. The question is what to do once problems are identified. There will always be problems.
Narcissist
1. What kind of need does the person have? Are you dealing with a past hurt, an abusive situation, an addiction, a job loss, a financial problem, or something else? The type of need will largely determine what your group can and should do.
For example, if the person has a large financial need, then before your group starts helping financially, it would be a good idea to check with church staff and have them assess the need. Staff who serve with benevolence have pretty good discernment to know who has a legitimate need and who’s trying to scam the group. Unfortunately, some groups have been taken for a ride. There are also many resources in the community that could be of help. Your group can still help, but the help should be offered in coordination with the staff.
2. What help seems to be working? As your group gives their attention to this hurting group member and listens, how is that helping them? Do they feel better after they talk things out or does this add fuel to the fire? When your group prays for the member’s needs, what is the result? Does your group member find peace? Many people just need to know that other people care, that they are accepted as they are, and that it’s normal for them to be experiencing this. If prayer and group support is encouraging to them, then keep it up.
Caution Here: Your group should avoid “fixing.” Let group members talk without giving them advice. Give them the gift of your attention without interrupting, telling your own story, or trying to solve their problem. They need to be validated by being heard. Sometimes a listening ear is all they need.
3. How is the care of the hurting person affecting the group? Most of our small groups are designed primarily as Bible study groups. Our groups offer care and support, but this is centered on a Bible study. If the hurting person in your group wants to turn your Bible study group into their personal support group, this can certainly cause some tension. Check-in with your other group members. Are they willing to serve or are they becoming weary in well-doing? Can the hurting person participate in group life, share what they need to share, but not make the group about them? You don’t want to forfeit the rest of your group members over one member who dominates the group with their problems.
4. How is the Holy Spirit directing you? When you pray for this person, what are you prompted to do? If the Spirit prompts you to buy groceries, then go buy groceries. If you feel prompted to adopt the adults in your group, you should check-in with your coach or a pastor first.
5. What’s your motive? Do you want to help because helping makes you feel good? Do you need to be needed? It’s good to check-in with wise counsel. One member of my group was helping a friend with some bills. When I asked, “What do you feel led to do?” He said, “I’m co-dependent. I feel led to fix the whole thing.” That was one of the most honest moments in our group. The Bible tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), but it also tells us that “each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:5). When something becomes too heavy for another, we should pitch in and help, but we have to avoid doing for other people what they should be doing for themselves. This creates an unhealthy dependency that won’t do anybody any good.
6. Check-in with your coach. If you feel out of your depth on something, it’s not necessarily time to pass the problem along. God may be using the situation to stretch you and to show you how He intends to use you. Your coach is a great resource to determine how you should be involved.
7. What other resources are available? If a group member is dealing with an issue, a support group that addresses that particular issue would be a great resource for them. You can find groups in your church or community  for Divorce, Separation, Grief, Substance Abuse, Single Parents, Single Mothers, Blended Families, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Marriage Issues, Financial Issues, and others. Sometimes it’s helpful for a person dealing with the loss of a loved one to attend a grief support group in addition to your group meeting. Ideally, their grief issues for the most part are addressed in the support group, and then they can participate in the small group Bible study as well. That doesn’t mean that they will never bring up their grief, but maybe they won’t spend the whole group time on it.
8. If after all of this, the hurting person just doesn’t seem to be getting help, it’s probably time to refer them to a church counselor or a licensed counselor.
Narcissist Test
9. If the hurting member won’t follow direction regarding what’s appropriate in group, then it’s time for a difficult conversation. The presence of a narcissistic person will destroy your group. If after several personal conversations with them, they continue to dominate the group with their issues, you must stop this. Clearly and directly redirect them in group: “Now, [Name], we have talked about this. This is not something that we are going to discuss here.” Sometimes a look and a shake of the head will do it. I pray that your group never gets to #9 on this list, but if it does, you have to consider the good of the entire group.
 
This is about the time when a leader will say, “I didn’t sign up for this.” No, you didn’t, but God did.

New Series and Small Group Study

New Series and Small Group Study

I am excited about this new series based on John Ortberg’s book, The Me I Want to Be. If we  MeIWantToBe_productshothome_1259679053
take it to heart, this study will have a profound effect on your group and Brookwood Church.

SERIES SCHEDULE The schedule for this study is different than what we typically do, in that, Perry is starting the series one week before the small group study begins. Here is the schedule

 

 

 

Date

Message

Study

Chapters

       
September 5 Introduction

None

1-2

       
September 12 Living by the Spirit

Lesson 1

3-6

       
September 19 Renewing my Mind

Lesson 2

7-10

       
September 26 Redeeming my Time

Lesson 3

11-14

       
October 3 Deepening my Relationships

Lesson 4

15-18

       
October 10 Transforming my Experience

Lesson 5

19-22

SMALL GROUP CONNECTION. The next two Sundays, September 5 and 12, the Small Group Connection will be held in the concourse following each service. This is available for all of the Open Groups who are doing the ME study. This is a great opportunity to meet prospective members face to face and sign them up for your group.

You will need to create an information sheet for your group. Please include your group name, your name, the date and time of your first meeting, your location and your contact information. You should have at least 30 copies of your information.

A couple of hints about the connection:

1. Sign Up Sheet – Write down the names of your current group members or any prospective members that you’ve invited before the connection. No one wants to sign up on a blank list. It gives the impression that your group should be avoided. Now, don’t write in Daffy Duck and Mickey Mouse. Just add the real names of your real members.

2. Keep an eye on your sign up sheet. Don't worry if 20 people sign up for your group. Typically, only 10 of those will make it to your group. You do need to watch your sheet. If your sheet goes unmonitored, you could end up with 50 people.

3. Plan to stay after all of the services. While the 10:30 service is usually the largest service, the 11:59 service tends to be the least connected service. Some groups have gone the whole morning with no sign ups, then hit the jackpot (so to speak) after the third service.

4. At the end of the connection, please return the yellow copy from your Sign Up sheet to Lora Catoe or to me. You can keep the white copy to contact your new group members.

5. Within 24 hours of the connection, send an email to the people who signed up for your group reminding them of when and where you will meet.