Sometimes a member of a small group will bring up a major, immediate crisis in the group. A bombshell can be almost any kind of crisis. Perhaps someone learned that day that they just lost their job, or a loved one was in a serious accident, or they got a cancer diagnosis, or they just discovered their spouse was having an affair. Life is full of upsetting, unwelcome surprises. These will often surface in small groups because of the caring relationships. There is no way to prepare in advance for a shock you don’t know is coming, but your group can rise to the occasion to be used by God. Here’s how.
It’s okay to ditch the group’s normal agenda. If the issue comes up while people are walking in, that issue just became the agenda for the night. If it comes up during prayer requests, you don’t just add it to the list and move on. Be sensitive to when the group needs to set aside what was planned and just focus on the pressing need of the moment. As the leader, decide how much of the normal meeting agenda to try to salvage. That depends on how much time it takes to process the shock, and how intense the emotions are.
Stop and pray
People will want to talk about the issue and probe for all the details. But once the basic facts are on the table, the best thing to do is stop talking and let the group pray for that person – for as long as is needed.
Be careful about what you say
You don’t have to try to solve the issue. Resist the temptation to go into “answer” mode or to just throw Bible verses at the problem. You may need to steer certain members of the group away from that kind of response. A time will come when input is important. But start with expressions of emotional and spiritual support. That’s the greatest strength of a small group at times like this.
After the meeting, follow up
With your leadership team, pray about how to share the right truth at the right time. As important as emotional support is, the person may also need to be gently challenged to trust in or obey God in face of the crisis. People’s response to upsetting situations is not always honoring to God. A crisis is a great opportunity to take some next steps in following Christ. Make a follow-up phone call or appointment to listen more and seek to help the person apply God’s truth to the situation.
Coach the group
Some members of the group may not be prepared to provide support to the needy member. The crisis may inspire them to stop attending. Help the group members process how to be a good group in this situation. Help them prepare to embrace the crisis for the long haul, as needed. Ask members of the group to follow up with expressions of care and support. Track the progress of the issue from week to week.
You’re doing well as a leadership team if your group is the kind of place where people can drop their bombshells. That’s evidence that your group is a trusting environment where people are going to get the right truth at the right time.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What kind of “bombshells” have you seen come up in small groups?
- How have you seen groups handle these crisis issues well? Not so well?
- Why is it important for the leaders and the group members to follow up in the days and weeks after the bombshell has been dropped?
- What are some principles and behaviors that you may have to coach your group to embrace when someone drops a bombshell?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.