Organizations will grow with the creation of small groups. Churches grow when small groups multiply. There are plenty of resources to help us create small groups but how will we know if our newly created small groups are healthy? Healthy small groups have 4 roles represented; leader, supportive giver, critic, and clown. Think now about the small groups in which you participate? Are all 4 roles represented? The leader helps name the agenda and directs full, inclusive conversation. The supportive giver provides encouragement. The critic will see and name all the cracks and shortfalls in the plan. The clown's role is to lower anxiety and tension for the group.
The leader needs the critic to ask the questions "Have you thought of this?" "I see some problems with that." and yes, the proverbial "We never have done it that way before." A leader without a critic will not be able to think things through, may not have anticipated every problem. The supportive giver needs a leader just like all workers need a supervisor. The supportive giver cannot survive without a leader anymore than worker bees can survive without a queen. The clown is essential for those times when the tension is thick and conflict is over the top. When folks face off, and will soon come to blows, the clown is the one that says "alright, I propose that instead of a lunch break let's choose up sides and have Bill and Robert lead us in a food fight!"
It is not common, but by necessity or choice, some folks assume different roles for different groups. In my old man's basketball group I am a supportive giver. As a pastor of local churches, I was a leader. In one peer group of mine, I am the clown. We are rarely effective if we try to assume more than one role in any group, and it is the balance of these 4 roles that provide a healthy small group. My question for you today is "What role do you assume in the small groups where you participate?" Are the other roles represented? Pastors are expected to assume the role of leader. What if your pastor is wired to be a supportive giver in every small group where he/she participates? Do you have the laity that will step up and be small group leaders when that is not possible for the pastor?
Something to think about.