What makes for a good grouping of people?
A lot is at stake: a sense of community, family, friendship, love, valuable acquaintances, psychological health, harnessing one another’s strengths, exploring possibilities of experience and action only possible in groups all happen in different kinds of communities. In community, the body of Christ can grow and have a chance to experience unity of the Spirit, and the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17.
How do meaningful communities come about? What holds them together? What is their reason for being?
Primary Giftings and Freedom for All Giftings
Inside a group, I think each of the 7 redemptive gifts need to be free to operate, with each member being able to give and receive, express their personhood as member of the group. There may be special-focus groups that can get away without having all 7, but I believe a well-rounded community is not whole or at its maximum potential for vitality unless all 7 are free to operate when they are needed. (And even if there are not members with primary strengths in all 7, they should still be able to fill the role of 7 as needed, even if they couldn’t do it as effectively as someone whose strength it was.)
Leadership and Facilitation (Directionality)
What’s the difference between a leader and a facilitator? I have found the general concepts of expressiveness (also known as yang) and receptiveness (yin) useful in the relationships within a person (in the inner workings of the mind,) and between people, so now I wonder if there is a useful distinction to be made with the personality of groups, and the directionality of the gift required by the group’s leader(s).
As individuals, we can either wait on God, like a priest, and minister to Him, waiting on Him for what He wants and worshipping Him. This would be a receptive posture. We are also given charge by God to go out and do things: take dominion of the earth (Gen 1:28), and heal the sick, making disciples of all nations, and so on, like kings (who are ambassador of the King of Kings. The King of Kings Himself is not there, but He has bestowed authority on his ambassadors and kings whom He has appointed.) In these kingly things, we are given the freedom and empowerment to take the initiative in the world God placed before us. God trusts us with the ‘how’ of our conduct, and He leaves the specifics of the ‘what’ up to us. We have the opportunity to be expressive (yang) and God waits for us to make our mark using the tools and mandate (authority) He entrusted to us, to steward.
What if groups can also primarily fill the role of priest (facilitor) or king (leader)?
A leader of a group knows where he or she is going with a group of people, and takes the lead in getting them there. A facilitator of a group waits on something external, such as God, (and/or some external authority or set of changing circumstances,) and guards a space for the group to collectively receive instruction from God and wait upon God.
There may be times for a priest to lead, and a time for a leader to be still, and there may be a time for a group to take initiative, or to wait upon God, but primarily, it seems to me that a group will often focus on one or the other, at least in a given context. Perhaps a church that does multiple things will have a different context and primary mode of operating: for example, a church that has a night of soaking prayer and waiting on God may fill the role of the priest that night, and during a ministry night they may take more of a leadership role.
For instance, I was part of such a para-ministry/church where we had and the ministry night seemed to be filling the role of priest for those we ministered to, and another teaching night to equip the members with some helpful information. However, the ministry night was the main focus for the group and seemed to dominate the group’s identity, so it seemed our group as a whole was geared more towards that role and that mode of operating, and I wonder if that is typical, unless there are multiple strong leaders of multiple types of events who can form a unique identity for each event. In this case, the leaders of the teaching were the same leaders as the ministry night, and even though the format was different, the heart was the same: to bring the merciful heart of God to people.
Roles, Dispositions, and the Redemptive Gifts
I love to map things out in order to grasp the spectrum of possibility. So here’s a shot at mapping out what leaders and facilitators might look like within groups that are geared to one of the 7 gifts, in a particular role (leader/facilitator) and disposition (initiating vs waiting):
Prophet Leader (initiates in partnership with God)
- Is experienced in bringing about change (inner transformation) in people, bringing them closer to God.
- Can take a group of people and transform them.
- Has a mandate from God and authority with people to bring about change in a group of people, recognizes it, and makes it happen.
- Drill sergeant in the marine corps. He transforms undisciplined people with messy psyches by breaking them down to foundations then building up into a disciplined fighting machine.
- Mentor of a spiritual school who knows how students need to change and can bring about that change (in partnership with and internally directed by the Holy Spirit.)
- Prophets who bring forward controversial uncomfortable / unfamiliar teachings and provoke/force the body of Christ to change: either accept the teaching and be changed or reject it and orient against it. (Or shelve it to postpone the inevitable change.) They knowingly create a shift in the body of Christ at large. (Perhaps Ian Clayton is an example.)
Prophet Facilitator (waits on God and responds to Him)
- Offers a group of people to God to be changed with no agenda. It is God who has the ideas for change (although we can always still ask), and will lead by His Spirit how He wants.
- Facilitates devotion to and trust in God in a big way. Allowing oneself to be changed by Another requires a great deal of vulnerability. It requires a conscious choice to quiet oneself, set aside one’s own ways to receive the unknown ways of another, with a simple trust that the Other is good and can be trusted with a blank cheque.
- A prophet facilitator can bring the group into an awareness of the benefits of trusting in the goodness of God, and help people to follow through on the choice to submit to the degree required to submit to God.
- The team lead of army recruits who subjects himself to extreme training, and carries some responsibility for making sure the newer recruits are in line.
- Lead explorer in a spiritual group who doesn’t know how the group will change but is helping the group submit to God so that God can change it.
- Those who lead study groups who follow the teaching of Prophet Leaders. Those who facilitate people along a shocking journey (Mike Parsons?) rather than shock people (Ian Clayton?) into a new journey.
Side note on ‘initiates’ vs ‘waits’:
I see Prophet as an expressive gift (prophesies originate in a king or King of kings who has the power to make the prophecy happen, or the moral authority goodness to change others), and the Servant as a receptive gift (a priestly role.) Whereas the Prophet Leader knows how to change people and takes initiative for the change, I see the Servant Facilitator as the one who knows how to serve and takes initiative for the acts of service, because the giving of the servant himself or herself is ultimately what is going on when service is happening. A loving king cannot demand service — the king must wait for the servant’s heart to be willing to serve in love — otherwise there is no relationship and the servant is a robot. Because the servant has initiative, I will start with the servant facilitator in this case (and same for exhorter and ruler).
- Carries the vision
- Puts his/her own creative energy into it
- Waits on another, for a creative vision to form in them
- Receives and stewards another’s expression of the vision
Servant Facilitator (initiates)
- Unites a group of people to support some cause, such as:
- taking initiative to help the homeless
- ministering to the needs of a group.
- Sees an apparent vacuum (need) and takes the initiative to move to fill it.
- a small group facilitator with a pastoral heart, perhaps with experience in inner or physical healing, who takes the initiative to ask for prayer requests, and spends time praying and otherwise giving support. A facilitator will look around for needs and take the initiative to minister to members that seem to need it, bring food to people going through a hard time, etc.
Servant Leader (waits)
- Waits for there to be an abundance of service directed at them, such as a charitable organization that receives large amounts of donations, the servant leader may have opinions about how to receive that service. They personally identify with and are familiar with the need and can therefore be trusted to make sure resources go where needed.
- Nursing home caregivers who know which elderly people are in the most need of company from a church group who visits to spend time with the elderly.
- Decision-makers at the Red Cross who distribute resources globally
- City administrators in a disaster area who know where Red Cross volunteers are most needed in the city
- Senior pastors at a church who are busy but are asked by a group what the group can do to help the pastor or the church. The group may want to give material things, or may be an intercessory team wondering what to pray for.
- Represent the leadership of a group with needs. Takes time to be aware of and vested in the well-being of the group’s members.
Side note on authority: I have heard people say servants often carry a lot of authority. I think Servant Facilitators are worthy of and receive authority over the one(s) they love because they willingly take the initiative to give of their very selves to the cause and can therefore be trusted with the cause.
Servant Leaders carry authority because somehow they ended up in a place where they identify with the need: the need of the cause is tantamount to the need of the Servant Leader. Asking the true-hearted leader where the donation or act of service should go is the same as examining the entire group for needs, calculating which needs are greatest. The servant leader already holds this in his or her heart, so you might as well just give them the resources.
Teacher Leader (initiates)
- Knows that people need to know some things.
- Has a plan to guide people into knowledge, wisdom, and responsibility.
- Inoculates people from dangerous ideas/doctrines, by preemptively instilling legitimate truths.
- Moves the group to being responsible, well-educated and well-equipped with the powerful truth, knowing ahead of time where the group will end up.
Teacher Facilitator (waits)
- Knows there are things that people need to learn, but not necessarily what they are.
- Finds good sources of teaching. Make room for interesting and useful teachings to be presented to the group. Perhaps there are excellent well known teachers whose DVD or written teachings are highly esteemed and even more highly valued. (They “wait” for DVDs to be made, but there are already a lot of teaching materials.)
- Spirit-led teachers (often teaching pastors) may have God as their source of teaching. They may wait on God for what to teach to the people, and then present it themselves to the church in a sermon.
- Guards people from dangerous teachers & trains of thought.
- Facilitates the group’s exploration, like the captain of a ship following a treasure map, sailing to new and unknown territory, helping the group come to terms with and process each new reality as it is encountered.
Exhorter Facilitator (initiates)
- Takes initiative to create an environment where the treasure in people can be found and celebrated.
- Empowers people in the deepest part of their being. Unclogs the heart as the “wellspring of life.” What are people empowered to do or be? What comes from the spring? That is up to the person — the facilitator just helps that happen.
- The coach who takes an underachieving team and helps them find their groove. The coach who gives the pep talk to the team before the big game. “You were born for this moment. Go out there and win the game.”
- The coaches who are good at finding the treasure in people (such as leaders of redemptive gift seminars.)
- The apostolic teacher/pastor (like Paul Keith Davis) who guides people into a realization that they have a marvellous and unique calling in God.
- The mentor who coaches a group to find and cherish the unique destinies, abilities and prophecies (scrolls) over the individuals and even moreso the destiny of the group and the unique special gifts that each member has within the context of the group. It is about more than simply serving the needs of the group or facilitator — it is about the group growing up into something that has not been revealed yet, transcending its current level of identity to flourish into a greater one.
Exhorter Leader (waits then responds)
- When there is an abundance of encouragement, the leader takes action to bring the group into its greatest and deepest fulfillment of who they are. “We are well supported — now is the time to do what we were meant to do.” When it is time for a group of people to self-actualize, with the wind of heaven at their back, it is the Exhorter Leader who is the tip of the spear.
- The superstar team captain at the home game of a playoff series with the chance to win the championship, giving the pep talk to his or her teammates. The captain has waited to be empowered by the coach and cheered by the fans, therefore now that that’s happened, it is time for the captain to take the lead and work as a team with his or her team.
- The apostolic leader who leads a mature company of believers into the fulfillment of a God-given destiny, one that is new, because it is particular to the people, who are new and unique. The group has support from God, His angels, some other church affiliations (if available), and now the exciting suspense is the revealing of what this group will become as it steps into its destiny. (Again, it is about more than what the leader is becoming, but what the group which is greater than any one person is becoming, even if the group might have a spokesperson, who may or may not be the Exhorter Leader.)
Giver Leader (initiates)
- Has resources of power or material possessions, and a good eye for where investments would be multiplied and yield good fruit.
- Purveyors of information and connection and access: networkers, link-sharers, those who make groups or conferences or space for people to meet one another and connect.
- Venture capitalists / angel investors who are deciding what to invest in. Also, stakeholders who have invested their resources and want to dictate how those resources get used.
- A group leader who sees the potential in the people in the group, and spends the group’s time pouring into people where it is most useful, for the individuals, but even moreso for the group (whose strength typically comes from the health of its individuals.) The leader may be good at identifying:
- who needs a prophetic word of encouragement,
- who needs a chance to grow in their teaching/sharing ability,
- who could use an opportunity to serve others,
- who has a vision and needs to be given the opportunity to create a new thing,
- who is the prophet with the unconventional ideas that need to be shared to impact the group and permanently integrate that prophet into the group,
- who else is a giver who can be mentored in all of the above.
Giver Facilitator (waits)
- “Makes themselves beautiful” to investors: create a small healthy business, steward some resource well and show a return on investment. Waits to be adorned & rewarded with more investment.
- Entrepreneurs who faithfully got their business started and are seeking investment to take it to the next level, giving a pitch to the Dragon’s Den on behalf of their humble startup.
- A small group facilitator who recognizes the assets they have, which may seem like a lot or a little, and faithfully nurtures each one in the way that maximizes fruit and the overall health and ability of the group, in expectation that God will reward the faithfulness with more gifts in the group, and more to steward, and more joy in it all.
Ruler Facilitator (initiator)
A Ruler Facilitator sees what could to be done to make things better and not only has the instinct to get it done, but also set others in motion to get it done. Examples:
- A group that exists to serve some need or some role is well served by a Ruler Facilitator who will facilitate the mobilization of each group member to step into action. Examples:
- People would be way better off if they were evangelized and given a quality opportunity to be saved. The Ruler Facilitator evangelist will notice this apparent need and take the initiative to mobilize the masses to get out and do it, either by setting up some system for the group to do it, or by giving pep rallies and strong suggestions that everybody can and should be doing it all the time wherever they go.
- A spiritually focused group may be aware of things that need to be done in the spiritual realm, things that require the mobilization of everyone, where each person’s contribution is important. The Ruler Facilitator can do what it takes to move each member into alignment where they can be productive, and then facilitate their action, taking away every other action.
- may have skills at being dominant and could be their own boss, but when it comes to relationship, the ruler loves by first asking “What needs to be done?”
It is not the facilitator determining what the action is, but rather the need that exists.
Ruler Leader (waits)
- The Ruler Leader could try to do everything himself or herself. Sometimes, though, that is sad. I believe it was Arthur Burk who says rulers build scalable systems. The Ruler Leader makes space for
Mercy Leader (initiator)
- Envisions how things should be. Has a creative brainwave that extensively maps out the blueprints of how an entire ecosystem should be laid out so that everything is geared towards some end.
- An apostolic church leader with a clear and inspired vision of how to establish a healthy church, and bring members into a well-functioning alignment.
- A small group leader who understands and sees what health looks like for a group of people and works to shape the group (including adding or removing people, or making room for someone’s mode expression or redirecting it) to bring everyone into alignment so that both the group and its members are healthy.
Mercy Facilitator (waits)
- Creates an environment of waiting on God to receive a holistic precise vision for a situation.
- Once a vision is received, guards that vision, reminds people of it, and points out what activities of a group are congruent or incongruent, so that the group can have a clearer choice about whether to follow that vision.
- A church that is led by a board of elders fasting and waiting on God to give the church direction, such as when a larger church is looking for a senior pastor. The lead elder facilitates this process and gives each elder who may be hearing from God a voice.
- A facilitator of a small group that seeks God for direction,
[WORK IN PROGRESS…to be continued]
What is a good raison d’être (reason for being) for a group? Here is some brainstorming using the above categories as a guide:
- Spiritual growth group, led by a senior mentor who was bringing less mature spiritual into greater maturity.
- Spiritual exploration group, led by peer facilitator(s) who helped the group wait on God and encouraged the group in sharing the interesting perspective-changing things that God was showing them so the group as a whole can mature in being changed together as a community. (I think this is what MP has been.)
- Study group
- (My parents are hardcore Teachers who host a small group and are always showing teachings by well-known teachers.)
- Intercession group. (I’m in monthly one for TM, led by a Ruler Facilitator guy.)