I’ve been to small groups where the leader opened our time for sharing and praying for one another and the time focused on one person and his/her needs. While that may be appropriate at times, if it is always happening, especially if it is with the same person, the group is being hijacked.
Hijacked Groups Fail to Fulfill God’s Design
Of almost any setting in the church where God’s design for mutual, reciprocal ministry one toward the other can happen, it is in a small group.
If attention almost always goes unidirectional toward that one person, what you have is co-dependence rather than the interdependence.
Preventing the Small Group from Being Hijacked
Small group facilitators, or leaders, need to be trained in group dynamics to be prepared for possible takeovers and know how to redirect the focus before it is too late.
In addition, the purpose of small group ministry should always be kept before the group. This could be through teaching on God’s design for interdependence and the one another passages but also through modeling it.
You might need to communicate guidelines for being an “allelon” group on occasion, especially when you have newcomers.
Intentionally structure sharing and praying times to open the doors of opportunity for everyone to actively participate.
Work toward building an “allelon” culture within the group. When that happens, group members will so value this core quality that they too will work toward the prevention of a hijack. For example, when someone shows signs of a takeover, a member of the group might volunteer to meet one-on-one after group time rather than leaving it up to the group leader to determine how to handle it.
Hijacked Small Groups Need to be Rescued
If the small group has been hijacked you need to rescue it before irreparable harm comes to it such as the purpose for small group ministry getting lost and other members becoming frustrated, disillusioned, and possibly stop coming.
The rescue attempt should always be to protect everyone involved, not to violently take down the hijacker which invitably could lead to the person feeling embarrassed or rejected and possibly leaving the group.
To be sure, as in physical rescues, as much as you try to protect everyone, it does not always end well. You cannot control the person’s reactions. Yet, you must be able to stand before God and say that you made “every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19; also see Eph. 4:3, Heb. 12:14). You must always “speak the truth with love” (Eph. 4:15) applying both grace and truth.
The next post will speak directly to the potential hijacker with truths they need to remember. You can share that post with your group as guidelines for group sharing. From time to time you might communicate these guidelines, in private, specifically with members who have a tendency to hijack your meetings. Encase the truths in gentleness, respect, and a humble and caring attitude. (Subscribe to be notified of new posts by e-mail.)