Recently the staff went on a retreat to Goat Island in Newport RI. It used to be the testing site for torpedoes.  Started in 1869, it remained a significant testing site and torpedo production site for the next 100 years.

While there I got to thinking about how destructive torpedoes can be to ships. It made me think of your group, like a ship, sailing to a destination. Everything is going well, and whatever your ship is like, things are good. But then, the torpedo hits and the ship goes down.

There are many torpedoes that can destroy a group:

  • A significant sickness or illness that dominates discussion and overtakes the care ability of the group
  • A toxic situation or person
  • Broken relationships in the group
  • Poor leadership
  • Poor attendance

Those are some of the more obvious ones. But there are other subtler torpedoes:

  • Extended periods where prayer is relegated to opening and closing
  • A slide away from studying the Bible towards just socializing
  • Too much Bible study without any getting to know one another
  • A plateau in the experience of group life
  • Failing to serve together
  • Failing to celebrate together

And I’m sure you could think of more.

Whatever the torpedo, ships began to protect themselves to avoid their destructive impacts.

  • Lookouts searched the water to spot submarines, or the torpedo trail in the water.
  • When the submarine, or other ship capable of launching a torpedo, was spotted, attempts were made to disable it or its launching ability.
  • When torpedoes were spotted, ships would change course or speed to make the torpedo miss.
  • Sometimes they would turn into the torpedo to close the gap before it could arm itself (well…at least that’s what Hunt For Red October taught me!)

I’m sure there are other ways to protect a ship from torpedoes, but these four are also applicable to your group….

  • Be on the lookout for potential group sinking issues.
  • When spotted try to deal with the issue before it threatens your group.
  • When the issue becomes a threat to the group make adjustments. Don’t ignore it! It’s going to be an issue, ignoring it won’t solve it…address it by changing course.
  • Sometimes, you just have to meet the issue head on and pray it hasn’t armed itself to destroy you.

That’s probably the best course of action for all of them – pray for your group to be safe from torpedoes.

Leaders, let us know other issues that might be potential torpedoes for a group and how you dealt with them.  Let’s work together to keep our ships on course and safe!

If you want to read other reflections of mine on torpedoes, check out my blog (

Dorian Botsis

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