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3 Questions to Ask Before You Bail On Your Small Group

Written by Paul Nystedt on

Leaders and Coaches

We’ve all committed to things that we shortly after wish we hadn’t. Sometimes we have good reasons, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes leaders can feel the pull to bail on their group. How do you know when your impulse to bail is really a good idea? Three questions will help you decide:

  1. Why am I really wanting to bail?
  2. What did my Coach advise?
  3. What would Jesus do?

Why am I really wanting to bail?

First, you should ask yourself, “Why am I really wanting to bail?” Often, we have an impulse to do something, but we don’t think about where the impulse is coming from. Spend time searching your heart: why is it that you want to end your group? This question alone will give you a lot of clarity on if you really should.

Poor reasons to bail include:

  • Those who have joined your group are not your “type” of people
  • Too many people in the group are struggling spiritually
  • Your friends joined a different Small Group
  • Your local intramural sports league plays on the night your Small Group meets

Some legitimate reasons to “bail” include:

  • You moved
  • There are some complex dynamics in the group that warrant a fresh beginning (for example: folks in the group starting to transition to another congregation, or perhaps relational fall-out where you did everything possible as a leader)
  • Your priorities necessitate it for a season (for example: giving birth to triplets, the death of a spouse or child, a significant job shift, etc.). This transition out of leadership may be only for a season as you re-stabilize.

What did my Coach advise?

Next, you should seek advice from your Coach.  Let your coach know the different dynamics and reasons you believe it may be best to end your group. Weigh the Coach’s opinion heavily. He or she should be able to give a more unbiased opinion as to whether the Small Group should continue, and you may find that your Coach is able to speak into your own heart as well.  You are also welcome to include your Coach’s elder and/or staff to help in this decision as well.

What would Jesus do?

Finally, the common saying, “What would Jesus do?” gives perspective to a situation like this. This approach isn’t meant as a guilt trip but as a sober evaluation.  Prayerfully seeking God’s will and wisdom guards us from making rash and foolish decisions. Questions like this help give a perspective on what’s important and may open alternative options.

For instance, maybe you have been extremely busy at work and don’t have the capacity to lead. Maybe you’ve thought about ending the group because of that. Instead of ending the whole group, it could be better to appoint someone else to lead during this busy season. Jesus surely wouldn’t advise us to live without Christian community, and you could still attend without the stress of leading. This gives another person a chance to lead.

On the other hand, maybe you have additional Christian community outside of your Small Group. For the sake of your priorities (like perhaps needing to attend to family more in this season) and where God’s calling you, you may decide it is best to help someone else take over the group as you take time away. These decisions require discernment and also wise prioritization.  And stepping out of group leadership doesn’t have to be a “forever” decision.

These three questions work as a compass to guide you before making important decisions, since the decision to end a Small Group is an important decision both for you and for those in your group.

Paul Nystedt

Paul Nystedt is a former pastoral resident at College Park Church. He currently serves as a pastor at Eagle Brook Church in Minnesota. Paul graduated from Bethlehem College and Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity. He and his wife love spending time with their two boys, family, and friends.

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