When a plant is healthy, it will naturally grow and bear fruit.
I spoke to Jared (not his real name), one of our small group leaders. He spoke to someone in church who stopped going to small group meetings out of the blue. He asked her why. Her response? She felt pressured. Her leader kept telling her, “since you have gone through this class and are done with that retreat, then you need to start your own small group.”
I am super sure that her leader meant well. Her intentions were to see her small group member take leaps of faith in leading someone to Christ. Growth and maturity happen when we lead others. But since she felt she wasn’t ready, she stopped going to her small group because she was afraid she was going to be asked again.
I told Jared this: “We have to remember, when a plant is healthy, it will naturally grow and bear fruit.”
We never see a farmer with a whip on his hand and force the plant or a tree to bear fruit. He does not whip the tree trunk to compel it to bear fruit.
What does he do? He fertilizes. He makes sure there’s ample water supply. He takes out any obstruction from the sun coming through. He does his best to do all he can to keep the plant healthy and remains in an environment of health.
I absolutely appreciate all our small group leaders. They work and labor in the field to bring many to Christ. They sacrifice time and resources. But let us remember that in our zeal to raise leaders, we want to make sure that the people we are leading are first healthy before we launch them out.
Relationship over rules.
People over process.
Health over hype.
What can we do?
1. Sincerely ask how they are spiritually.
Not if they doing ministry. Not if they are serving in church. Not if they are doing good deeds.
Ask if they are growing in their walk with Jesus.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment when they are ready to lead.
The Holy Spirit will lead us. He will guide us into all truth. If we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, He will direct our paths. I realize that no one will ever be ready. I wasn’t and I don’t know if I ever will. But there’s a sense of timing and indicators to see if one is okay to be launched.
3. Perform check-ups every so often to see if they are growing and healthy.
Just because one is leading a group, it doesn’t mean he is spiritually invincible. How do I know that? It’s because I am not. I need people to help me, teach me, coach me, disciple me, train me and rebuke me if necessary.
As my pastor, Joey Bonifacio, would often say, “Slow is fast.”
When we hurry the process, we end up slower.
But when we take our time to strengthen and do all we can to see growth and health, then in time, God will launch them to bear fruit.
It’s never about the numbers.
Each one is valuable to God.