• I know the power of good small groups.
  • Many people feel unqualified to lead small groups.
  • Many books written for small group facilitators are not user-friendly.

As a former therapist who’s led many small groups, I’ve seen people healed through the power of community — through finding others with whom they can share vulnerably, honestly, and safely. For years, I heard the same phrase repeatedly: “I thought I was the only one.” Then, I had the personal privilege of being a participant, and I experienced firsthand the power of healthy small groups.

Since leaving professional practice twenty years ago to raise my three adopted, special-needs kids, I’ve been continually involved in small groups, facilitating some and participating in others. In all, I’ve grown in ways I could never have otherwise.


Because God created us for relationship — for real, honest, safe, growing, healing relationship first with Him and then with those He created. God’s intention from the beginning has been for us to connect, to give and receive both grace and truth, for that is how we grow in holiness. As we grow in God, we are healed, though sometimes that healing looks far different than what we ever hoped or expected.

In the midst of chronic physical or emotional illness, we pray for healing — and God wants us to pray for healing, for He is our Great Healer.

God always heals.

But too often, we have our own idea of what healing means.

“Lord, heal this genetic disease in me and my kids!”

“Lord, heal my depression!”

“Lord, heal my cancer!”

“Lord, heal my ___________!” (Fill in the blank.)

We all need to be healed of something, don’t we?

If you’re anything like me, you might wonder how you can have joy when God doesn’t heal as you desire. I get it. I’ve wrestled with that too, but joy is possible even when God doesn’t heal our brokenness this side of Heaven.

In the meantime, we are called to call on God, our Great Comforter, and to comfort others in the ways we have been comforted — and if we’re called by God, we’re equipped by God.

Might He be calling you to lead a small group? Might God be calling you to participate in one? He’s in the healing business. Might He heal you as you step out in faith in a small group?

Yes, doing true life together can be messy. Yes, it can hurt at times — but God can clean up every mess we make. He can heal the wounds we create. All we need is willingness and humility, to seek Him first and always in all things.

Consider God’s grace, mercy and healing in the context of a healthy small group.

Are you ready to thrive? Ready to let God and others embrace you and your brokenness?

Let’s join together in groups! Let’s watch God’s glory be revealed!

I hope you say yes!

Heather MacLaren Johnson

Heather MacLaren Johnson

Psy.D. and Author

Heather and her husband, Todd, are parents of three adult children adopted from Russia with multiple, invisible, permanent special needs. They live on 44 rural acres in Wisconsin. Heather's greatest desire is to help other chronic emotional sufferers understand that no matter how wounded, we are all passionately loved by God. She blogs at True Life with God and is the author of Grace, Truth & Time: Facilitating Small Groups that Thrive.

GRACE, TRUTH & TIME: Facilitating Thriving Small Groups

Heather MacLaren Johnson

With this incredible resource you can learn to: lead through God's grace, create a space for spiritual growth and healing, empathize, listen and engage with those in pain, grow in prayer and compassion, foster hope and encouragement, and build small group communities that thrive.


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