by Jon Mullican
Last Wednesday’s post compared leadership functioning in some churches with the game of Ouija: questions are posed and decisions made based on hidden forces within and between the members that are not, or will not, be revealed. Rather than allow mystery to remain the theme of leader interaction, it is possible to bring the forces out into the open and deal with them in mature and thoughtful ways, so that decisions can be made and actions taken that are intentional, thoughtful and God fearing. Bringing forward this kind of functioning after years of Ouija Board Leadership will not happen overnight; it is possible, however, and begins by addressing the basics of group interaction.
The limited time the leadership group spends together lends itself to limited trust. After God’s grace, trust is the key lever that helps move a group to accomplish its intentions. Simply spending more time together will not automatically equate to greater trust; however, spending time together outside the work agenda can improve the trust level within the group. Further, revealing one’s motives for one’s views will lessen the feeling of hidden agendas – that things are moving without discernible cause. Specifically, opening each meeting with scripture dwelling, prayer and a question to deepen understanding of one another is a start.
Scripture and Prayer
Dwelling in the word, a.k.a. lectio divina, is the heart of group leadership. Carefully choose a scripture that captures the hearts of the group in its current condition or work. Keep the passage relatively short (three to seven verses, e.g. Phil 2:5-11) and read it before each meeting for no less than 6 months (see lectio divina or go here for more ) . Take time for a centering prayer after dwelling in the word, praying for the group’s wellbeing and work.
The Question that Reveals
The question posed should be written down, answered in writing, and shared in groups of two or three. Mix the groups over time. The best questions are personal, ambiguous and anxiety provoking. These types of questions leave room for interpretation while allowing the listener to see the individual anew. Possible questions:
What matters most to me in our work together?
What evidence do I see that God is at work among us?
What doubts and fears do I harbor about the future?
What do I see as my most important contribution to this group?
You may choose to share your small group experiences with the entire group.
Using the first 30 to 45 minutes of each meeting this way will, over time, improve the general trust among the group by revealing hearts and motives. Instant trust within a group is a fantasy. It takes work and the work is worthwhile. And the time taken will lessen the mystery associated with those discussions and situations that currently feel Ouija Board like. And as much as trust is necessary within the group, so is the willingness to wade into conflict, the topic of next week’s blog (anyone seeing a similar track to Patrick Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” receive kudos).
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