Usually I am a positive guy and try to keep my ramblings on positive.  But today I am taking time to share about something I hate.  I hate divorce.  It makes me angry!  It takes something away from people and families.  It causes heart ache and sleepless nights and pain. 

I realize that many people in our community know much more about this issue than I.  Every week I am confronted with another family who is suffering from marriage problems and thoughts of divorce.  I have asked Rodney Wilson, our Marriage and Family Minister to offer some thoughts on this blog as well.  I also used information from the  Emergency Response Handbook by Group Publishing.  This book is available from GroupLife office.  

So how does a Small Group (SG) deal with divorce?  You cannot have a Small Group without problems, mainly because small groups consist of people. And people are human and will mess up.  It is the same with marriages. The perfect ones don’t exist this side of heaven. Yet, the SG will be involved.  There is a fine line between caring for the couple and letting them dominate your meeting every week.

·         Early signs of trouble:  When verbal shots are taken in Group that might seem offensive to a spouse, make a mental note to speak with one of them after the meeting.  Don’t brush it off!  They may be screaming out for help.  As a SG member or leader you have the responsibility, authority and Holy Spirit guiding you to confront potential problems and walk with fellow strugglers.  Talk to the Lord about this situation. James 1 strongly encourages us to ask for His wisdom when needed. Walking through this difficult situation as a small group leader can develop you into more of what God wants you to be for Him. Sometimes growth is challenging, yet it can make the body of Christ and its leadership stronger.

·         When one spouse tries to get you or the group to take sides, don’t.  Instead, the males can take the struggling husband out for coffee and listen to him, let him vent, pray with him, etc. The ladies can do the same for the needful wife.

·         Make it clear that you care as a group, but don’t turn the small group meeting into a group therapy session. You are probably not equipped for that. Nor is it what the others signed up for. You will likely end up spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.  Let each of them know that sharing their marital details with everyone in your small group is unproductive for all, including them. Tell them, during prayer time, you need only share “headlines”. Offer the help with finding a marriage counselor if needed, but again, steer away from the couples’ issues being extensively addressed in your small group times.

·         Usually one spouse will begin to drop out of SG.  Be sure to contact them and walk with them through this issue.  Don’t make them feel like they have to attend group.  If they decide to leave the group, help them find another place for support and spiritual growth.  Isolation is Satan’s playground. 

·         The stress of divorce hits unexpectedly and a spouse needs someone to call.  Have your group provide a list of names and numbers of group members whom the person can call when in need of emotional support, child care, fellowship or prayer.   

·         If needed, do not hesitate to contact your Small Group Coach or Coordinator, a staff member or GroupLife office for assistance and support.  None of us are perfect in handling these type of issues, but don’t go it alone.