I was recently browsing books on Amazon to see if there were any books that might spark my interest. In doing so I found a book written by Eugene Peterson titled “Like Dew Your Youth.” I perused the table of contents, the introduction and the final pages. In doing so, I found a brief note in an appendix about rules for small groups. Here they are as I read them word-for-word by Eugene:
- Start and stop at an agreed-upon time. Even if the discussion is going great, stop when you said you would. There will be another session. Late-night bull sessions are for people who don’t have to go to work the next day.
- Don’t dominate. Some people, if they don’t watch themselves, take over a group. If you have this tendency, discipline yourself. Instead of always giving your own opinions try asking a few questions of quieter members of the group, drawing them into more participation.
- Take the group seriously. Give it high priority. Refuse to let anything but illness keep you from it. Sporadic attendance weakens the group. Since each person is part of the content, the group won’t function well without you.
- Don’t gossip. What goes on in the group should stay in the group. This isn’t material to be discussed with the neighbors over coffee. The group is an extension of the people of God in the church in which friends are sharing important aspects of their lives in Christ in a spirit of confidence and prayer.
- Take the Lord seriously. He is more interested in you than you are. Open yourself to the strength He provides in Jesus Christ. Set apart time during each session, either as you begin or as you conclude, to express this openness to God in prayer.
These are simple rules, and yet they set a profound framework for groups that regularly meet. I thought I would have something to say about each one of these rules…but I don’t need to dominate what Mr. Peterson has already said.