Small Groups: 3 Things for Walking a Tight Rope


Andy Stanley says, “Some tensions are to be managed, not problems to be solved.” 

I was recently convicted by a conversation I had with a Small Group Point Person. He said, “With all of the groups you oversee, how do you know what is taking place in all of them? How do you know the good and the bad?” As much as I felt the knot form in my stomach and the desire to say, “I try so hard to know these things!” I refrained. I sat there, and I said, “I don’t know. I don’t know everything that is taking place.” And here’s the tension that I live in. I’m somewhere between wanting to control the outcome and the course of direction for the small groups I oversee and wanting them to flourish and be fruitful all on their own with my trust. It’s like walking on a tight rope. One side can be too much control and one side can be too much freedom, so there’s no longer a need for my job! If I become so focused on what is going on in my groups, what they are studying, visiting each of them, knowing everybody who is in the groups, etc., I can unintentionally come across as trying to control the group or one who isn’t trusting the SGPP. If I swing too far to the opposite side, I can become disengaged with my SGPP and run the risk of them feeling like I’ve left them in the deep end. 

So, here’s why I was convicted. It wasn’t that I don’t know every detail, every win, and every struggle of every group at all times. That would be an impossible job! I was convicted because I realized I wasn’t asking the right questions to know more about my groups and the lives of the SGPP. Mark Batterson says, “If our prayers aren’t specific, God gets robbed of the glory He deserves because we second-guess whether or not He actually answered them.” The less I know about the stories of my Small Group Point People, the less I can praise God for. 

Here are three things I am doing to help make sure I am managing the tension- not resolving it. 

  1. How am I taking the time to be active and engaged in the lives of my SGPP? 
  2. How often am I praying for my SGPP? 
  3. How am I making myself available to my SGPP? Does everyone know my availability? 

This blog isn’t going to give you an answer or pinpoint that “sweet spot”. It’s not that easy. Instead, it’s a challenge for you to take a step back and think about what tight rope you are walking on right now. Have you fallen off the tight rope? A tight rope isn’t a bad place to be- in fact, it’s sometimes where some of the best dance art can take place. Awareness is the first step to helping us better understand how we are leading. We have to know where we stand in order to know how we lead. 

So, what are the stories of waiting, wanting, hopes, hurts, and dreams of your SGPP? Where are you on the tight rope? Maybe you aren’t leading in the tension anymore and you need to get back on the rope. Let’s live in that area of managing instead of solving, together. 

Previous article5 Themes for Developing a Church-Wide Small Group Culture
Next articleBuilding a Healthy Team of Small Group Leaders
Kiersten Telzerow lives in the Washington, D.C area with her husband, Matt, and their goldendoodle named Luna! Kiersten serves as the Small Group Director at one of the campuses at National Community Church and is a Master of Divinity student at Wesley Seminary through Indiana Wesleyan University. She loves being in community with people and learning about their stories. When Kiersten is not studying, her favorite thing to do is spending time with family and friends, trying new coffees, attending leadership conferences, or reading a new book. She loves all things small groups and believes that we were never meant to exist alone - community is always better!