It was our annual Small Group Leader Banquet to celebrate, appreciate and invigorate. (sermon coming soon). We had gifts for everyone, a special meal and as our guest: one of the top speakers in the nation for Small Groups.

As people gathered they began to introduce themselves and share stories about their groups.  Our GroupLife team was introducing people and hearing stories of what God was doing in various groups.  All the time waiting on the Caterer to prepare the buffet.

After 15 minutes of talking and waiting for the Caterer, I noticed a worried look on my teams’ faces.  No Caterer.  After 30 minutes of waiting, the look turned to anger and major fear.  We discussed options and what our guest speaker could do in the meantime.  Well our guest speaker was Bill Donahue, the SG specialist, author, consultant and a teacher to thousands of SG pastors and leaders.  I shared our situation with him and he immediately responded “I can begin speaking and when Caterer arrives we can break for the meal.” We all looked at each other and debated/prayed/discussed.  All this conversation took about 8 seconds and we said ‘Yes.’

Bill not only did a tremendous job with the situation, he had people taking notes and laughing while they were starving.  His training talk was “Turning Meetings into Moments” which he was practicing right before their eyes.

The Caterer arrived an hour late.  Bill stopped in the middle of his talk, allowed people to get their food, then he continued on like nothing had happened.  Not only were the notes spotted with butter and mashed potatoes, but were valuable.

We experienced what many small groups experience:  the food late, the kids running through the middle of the meeting, the phone ringing or even the neighbor dropping by during the SG ‘meeting.’ Even in all this disruption and distraction, God still showed up. Bill was able to turn a bad situation into a ‘moment’ as he talked about creating moments, seizing moments and marking moments of small group life.

People walked away with notes on how to make their SG time together more than just a meeting.  The Caterer being late allowed us all to experience SG adjustment in a larger setting. As Heather Zempel says “Small Group Ministry is messy” but the experience was life changing.