The model for relationship in a small group is the interaction of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are One Person yet diverse and as Mark Driscoll and Jerry Breshears state it in Doctrine, What Christians Should Believe, the Trinity is a community that, “communicates truthfully, loves unreservedly, lives connectedly, serves humbly, interacts peaceably, and serves selflessly.” (p. 12) This is what a love relationship between followers of Christ doing life together should look like.
Relationships like these don’t just come into being because a cluster of Christ followers are in a group together. There are some definite ways a small group leader can motivate a small group to be in a love relationship with one another.
5 Ways to Motivate Love
1. Acknowledge God’s presence at the outset of every small group meeting. “God is love…” (1 John 4:16) and we can only live in a love relationship with each other if we allow Him to help us love others through His power. Recognizing God’s presence through prayer, a testimony of His work in someone’s life, the reading of a Psalm, the singing of a song of praise, etc… at the outset of every small group meeting will open the door for God to lead the group to show love to one another throughout the group gathering.
2. Lead group members to meet one another’s needs. (Acts 2:44 – 45) When group members prove their love for one another by meeting each other’s needs, material as well as emotional, love relationships are established.
3. Remind group members often and deferentially that they are to honor the others in the group above themselves. (Romans 12:10) When group members humbly, willfully, and purposefully think more highly of others than themselves an environment of love will be established. This due to the fact that, it is nearly impossible for someone to do anything but love the fellow group member who chooses to show admiration and respect for them.
4. Create an environment of affirmation. (Ephesians 4:29) When someone affirms another person, there is more than just a relationship being built, a bond between humbled hearts is being created. The person who has voiced a statement of affirmation has broken down a relational barrier. The person receiving the word of affirmation silently acknowledges the humility the affirmer has exercised and, because of this, has a special place in their heart for them. A small group leader can create an environment of affirmation by modeling an affirming lifestyle and by encouraging group members to affirm one another anytime there is something to affirm. As Ken Blanchard once said it, “Catch people doing something right then tell them.”
5. Early in the group’s life do a study of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Ask the group to commit to, as well as they can, love the others in the group by living out each of the characteristics Paul unearths. As you start the study, be sure to make the group aware that this passage wasn’t written for weddings, rather, it was written for the church as a guideline concerning how to live life together humbly and in so doing become a people of love.