For those of us who believe in the power of small groups, we understand the power of being present in lives our few. It’s great to show up at games, concerts, award ceremonies and the like, but being present is more than just showing up. It’s allowing your few to have a front row seat to how God is working in your life and family—making the words you share in the circle have flesh outside of the circle.
When trying to develop a “Be Present” mindset, here are some things to consider:
- A good mix of their special occasions and your everyday life is best. Continue to show up at big moments in their lives (e.g., school activities, birthday parties, church events, etc.), but don’t overlook an opportunity to invite them into your normal moments. And, no, not every moment is one you want to have shared in a Facebook message years later, but letting them see your authentic faith in action is good. Keep inviting them in!
- You ARE being watched and heard. In the early years of a child’s life, this is more obvious as you watch them mimic things you do. It is harder to believe when it seems all of your efforts yield only blank stares and shoulder shrugs. Know they are walking away with something. They are developing a picture of what it means to be a God-follower. It might also be their first experience with someone who doesn’t give up on them. Keep showing up!
- You will never know the full impact of your efforts. There will be some great shared moments with your few—moments that you all remember. Then there will be those moments THEY treasure . . . ones you were unaware of. Perhaps it gets back to you, but chances are, it won’t. Just be thankful that God allowed you an opportunity to share in their story; at the end of that day, that is a pretty awesome gift.
I recently got a Facebook message from someone I haven’t seen in several years since I was the youth pastor at the church she attended. I met her as she and her family were going through some tough times. Through it all, this single mom was doing an amazing job raising her four kids! And our church and ministry really rallied around her family.
She shared a conversation she had with her now college-aged daughter. They were discussing her time in youth group and what she remembered: “Mom, I don’t remember much of what I was taught. My most memorable moment was Brian! I clearly remember being in the car with Brian and his kids. He turned on Veggie Tales, and said, “HEY, watch this.” The boys started singing and going crazy with it, and Brian sang right along. That was the moment that I realized how great of a dad he was! I realized that, in the absence of my own dad, I looked up to Brian for everything! I wanted to be more like him and not turn out like Dad! That’s exactly what I remember!”
I don’t share this to pat myself on the back. I share this because I don’t remember it ever happening! That’s right, out of nearly four years of lessons, retreats, choir concerts, etc., the moment that she most clearly remembers is one that I don’t. When I got this particular message, it started out with an apology. See, she meant to share this story with me over a year ago! But when she finally told me, it was right on time, and it spoke volumes to me about the sort of impact that an intentional and present SGL can make—even unintentionally sometimes. Keep leading small! It’s the best way to make a lasting impact on your few!
By Brian Fuller
NextGen minister at Georgetown Church of Christ in Georgetown, Texas.