Normalizing the Experience

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Springtime. Warmer weather. Green. New growth. Fresh flowers. However, living in a mountain town spring has taken on new meanings for me. And one word encapsulates spring in the mountains: fickle. One day it is 75° F and sunny. I am outside with my family, running and playing. The next day it is 35° F and snowing. The fire is back on, as is the heater.

The fickle weather can make my attitude fickle as well. When it is sunny and warm, I am a little happier. When it is 35° F and snowing, I can be a little more lethargic and grumpy.

Spring in the mountains can be absolutely crazy making.

I was recently reflecting on the fickle nature of springtime in the mountains as I was typing my weekly email to my small group leaders. I realized that leading a small group can be a lot like the weather in the mountains. One week you have a great time with your group. People not only show up, but they also participate. They not only participate, but they actually open up and become a little more vulnerable. When everyone leaves, you feel great. Those meetings are great.

And then next week, it is the complete opposite. Half the group does not show up. The people who do show up are a shell of what they were last week. When everyone leaves, you feel lousy. Did I do something wrong? What happened?

I shared these thoughts with my small group leaders, and was surprised by how much it resonated with them. In any season, we will all have these moments with our small groups. The questions is: Do we give space for our leaders to vocalize these feelings?

Your small group leaders would not be leading a group if they were not passionate about it, and did not love it…most of the time. But they will eventually hit the wall. Feel frustrated. Want to call it quits.

As a small group point person, one of our tasks is to normalize this experience. Not to hide from it. Not to run from it. But to honestly vocalize where we all might be. But nor should we let our people simply wallow. After normalizing the experience, we must help them navigate what God is inviting them to consider. Is God inviting them to take a step back? Is God inviting them to something more? Are they stuck in a rout?

Our task in these vicissitudes of ministry is not to fix, but to simply be with them. Be a faithful, loving presence that continually points them to Jesus.