Okay, I confess, I crafted that title to get your attention. But now that you are here, I wanted to ask you a question: “Have you ever felt like that? Have you felt like you hate small group ministry?” I have. Several weeks ago, I was ready to walk away from it all and said, deep down in my heart, “I hate small group ministry.”
Now, I don’t ACTUALLY hate small group ministry. As Steve Gladen has said, I believe small groups are the best place for people to find love, purpose and life transformation. But, at the time, I sure felt like I did.
I Hate Small Group Ministry – Don’t You?
That is not easy to admit I hate small group ministry in a forum like this, but I want to peel back the curtain and get real with you: days or weeks will come where you feel this way.
“Wait, didn’t you recently write a post titled The Top Five Lessons for Building a Small Group Ministry?”
Yup. That was me. And I still believe in every single word, but after I wrote that, I had a really difficult week. A series of setbacks and challenges left me exhausted, hurt and discouraged. Leading people toward community is straight-up hard sometimes!
So why write this post?
Because I need you to know that you are not alone in how you may sometimes feel about small group ministry, and I wanted to share five lessons that God is teaching me through it all.
5 Lessons During Difficult Seasons
#1 – Leave room for grief.
Terry Wardle once said, “Ministry is a series of ungrieved losses.”
The more I consider this, and the longer I serve, the more I realize how true it is.
People we care about leave. Those we trust cause pain. Ones we invest in walk away. Too often, as leaders, when we face hurt, we “suck” it up” and move on, never pausing long enough to reflect on that pain.
I think we are afraid to face the hurt because facing it is difficult. It requires us to stop long enough to acknowledge the pain. Maybe we don’t stop because we’ve convinced ourselves, along the way, that we must know everything, do everything and be everything. Whatever the reason, not dealing with hurt will hurt.
That is why we must recognize these losses and grieve them appropriately so they do not hinder our future journey with God and others. Realizing this truth has empowered me to develop habits that lead me toward health.
Pay attention to these feelings. Pray about them. Process them with God and others. And then move on knowing that you have spent the time facing those things that have hurt you.
#2 – Keep your calling at the heart of your ministry.
You are called on purpose for a purpose; otherwise, you would be doing something else. So, in those moments of difficulty, when it all seems like it is not worth it, remember that calling.
The truth is we were never promised that the road forward would be easy but be reminded that it is immeasurably worth it.
Remember in the dark what you knew to be true in the light. ~ Scott Landry
Someone once told me to make it a practice to “remember in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.” Just because I don’t see or feel as clearly as before doesn’t change the truth of my calling. I know I am called here to do what I am doing, and I cling to that with reckless abandon when things get hard.