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Our 1 Group leaders are going through a challenging time. We are at that “in between” stage, where leaders are committing to either continue to lead a group, or new leaders are coming on board and agreeing to begin leading. The first official group meeting is not for another month, but in the excitement of a new group year, leaders are already thinking about who will be in their group … and finding more uncertainty than answers.

This year, we are asking 1 Groups to focus on a more intergenerational range of members. Leaders therefore have to think not just of those individuals who are most similar to their age/Bible class preference/station in life/way of thinking. They now have to think “outside their box,” so to speak.

Asking someone who differs from you – in personality, socio-economical background, station in life, theology, etc. – to be a part of your group goes against what is most comfortable and in some ways, most logical. For whatever difficulty there may be in finding someone that “fits” our group, that difficulty is exponentially increased when we have to find someone who is different, but still fits.

Let me offer a couple of thoughts on finding the right group member.

First, you know this, but I am still going to say it: there is no perfect group member. Some of the best relationships I have had with fellow group members have been with the ones who I would have least expected such positive results. And the reverse has been true. Some who have been the best “fit” have also produced the most anguish for me as a group leader.

Also remember that group members who may seem the least compatible provide the most opportunity for growth – yours, not theirs. The difference between who you think a group member needs to be and who they really are may simply be a reflection of your own distance from who God is calling you to be.

One day I hope to write a post entitled “How Relationships Killed Small Groups,” but until I do, let me present my working hypothesis. In our attempt to build better relationships (good thing) in the name of Christian community (also a good thing), we have overlooked (bad thing) the power of God to live in and strengthen our connection with other people (great thing). The reality is: most of us would have found something to hate about one another a long time ago if God were not a part of defining how we love one another. If he could love the sinners and tax-collectors, then perhaps we need to be a little more lenient on those we define as falling short of the “perfect fit.”

So, as you look for group members, relax. The best group member may be the next person who accepts your invitation to attend group, or the family who appears to have no connections, or perhaps even the individual you would consider most unlike you and your entire group. Invite them anyway – they just might be the perfect fit!

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