I am a great believer in preparation. Not just because it ‘looks good’ but because I genuinely believe it will benefit both yourself and the small group you attend. We will gain much if we chose to see preparation as a gift we bring to the rest of our community of faith. As for leaders, I see this as a non-negotiable priority.
Seems like a logical and slightly superfluous statement to make but unless you book it in your dairy and plan to be there, the small group will miss you and you will miss out. Each absence will influence the atmosphere and efficiency of the group.
As we live in an increasingly busy world, with work and family demands ‘screaming’ at us, we need to arrange our week around our spiritual priorities. Start on a Sunday night and plan the week ahead. As you look at your diary write the small group slot in it.
Factor in such things as the meal prep and the children’s care ahead so that you aren’t thrown into chaotic situations (well, as much as you can anticipate).
I know that it always seems compulsory to add prayer to any list, just to make sure it passes the ‘spirituality’ test. That is surely not my reason. Prayer is the most effective way to prepare for a community gathering.
Pray for your own mind and heart. Pray for sensitivity and freshness. Pray for those who will attend and those who are facing challenging situations at home or at work.
Pray for those leading and hosting the small group. Pray for the barriers that the enemy might attempt to put in the way of those wanting to attend or during the meeting itself.
If you just turn up tired, frustrated and out of compulsion, it will be quite likely that the whole small group experience will be unsatisfactory. What could refresh you? Think about the subject to be discussed.
Download the notes where available. Listen to the podcast of the subject discussed if you are following a Sunday message. Read the Biblical passage and highlight what ‘grabs’ you. Make some notes and bring them along.
Write down questions and ideas. Bring with you any good books you read/songs you heard/blogs you found lately. Come prepared to listen and vulnerable enough to be transparent. Ask that the Holy Spirit will use YOU to encourage those present there.
I know that reading this might seem overwhelming and potentially discouraging. But that isn’t my intention at all… Start something new from the list. Baby steps… And hopefully both you and your small group will be renewed and inspired.