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And Then There Were None

Three things to do when people leave your small group

Groups. We've all been in one where the numbers keep whittling down until it's just you and the leader left.

When you're the one leading, what do you do if people start leaving yours?

1. Don't freak out. This does not stamp you with the World's Worst Small Group Leader award.

Breathe. Chances are the reason they left has nothing to do with you. Sometimes life happens. Work shifts get moved around, kids have music lessons and baseball games, illnesses and life crises occur. Nothing gets accomplished if you start hyperventilating and then pass out on the floor.

2. Start talking. Ask them to a friendly cup of coffee in a nonthreatening tone and dialogue with them about why they left. Did life merely get hectic? Lend your support and listening ear. Is there anything you can do to encourage them to stay? If the time your small group has decided to meet doesn't work anymore, can you change it?

See this as time for you to develop your leadership skills. Do they feel as though they are not being heard or not being challenged? Do they dislike the topic or see it as childish? Remember to approach your conversation prayerfully and in humility; now is not the time to assert your leadership authority over them. You are meeting to learn how to be a better leader. Also, don't use your position as an excuse to share their business with the rest of the group. Trustworthiness should be one of your trademark leadership qualities.

3. Move on. Once you talk with them, you can determine whether or not their suggestions or complaints are valid and something you want to incorporate. You can't please everybody. Although Christ did feed the crowd, he didn't try to please them. Would switching topics really help the group, or are they only upset because they are not in control? At times, for the sake of the others in the group, it is better to let one person go. Eventually you will have to make a decision, trust God with the rest, and move on.

If you have you been in this situation before, what did you do?

Margaret Feinberg is the author of several books, including her most recent, Hungry for God. This blog post also appears on her site, margaretfeinberg.com .

July19, 2011 at 7:48 AM

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