Small groups can serve as catalysts for church growth, relational connectivity and powerful discipleship, but goals need to be preset to insure the health of your group.
Here are our Top 8 goals to make your small group more effective:
1. Establish the “Why”
Before doing anything else with your group, sit down and consider WHY your group will be in existence. Are you trying to attract new members to the church, trying to encourage community within the church members, or trying to deepen the faith and discipleship of current members? Or a mix of all three? Are you going to be essentially connected to the church in content and membership, or will you be an independently functioning body? Are we looking for discipleship or just social connections? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it’s important for expectations to be clear. WHY you are meeting will help determine HOW you meet, and clearly establishing it will avoid frustration down the road.
2. Define Your “Win”
Do you want to grow personal connections? Establish ministry for the church? Do service projects in the community? These are all wins, but what is a win for YOUR group? When you have a “win,” CELEBRATE IT!
3. Define Your Boundaries
A group is defined not only by what it does, but by what it does not do. Make sure your group members understand what you do not do. Consider whether you will provide pastoral care/counseling, visit each other in the hospital, provide resources to members in need, and other things of this nature. Draw the line and make sure that everyone knows where it is. Also, clarify the confidentiality of the group. You need to make the group a safe place for your members to share their hearts and prayer requests, without fear of gossip or people hearing about things that they may not want to be shared publicly.
It might be a good idea to actually have members sign or verbally commit to a written group covenant. Click here to see a sample Small Group Agreement.
4. Define Leadership
Decide what kind of leader you will be and what help you need to recruit. Based on your strengths and the strengths of your members, who will facilitate discussion, organize hosting and refreshment schedules, maintain group communication throughout the week, record prayer requests and praises, etc.? Leaders who teach may need more training or special preparation.
5. Define Membership Expectations
How frequently will your group meet: weekly/bi-weekly/monthly? Will you meet for a specific length of time and then take a break? Will you break for the summer or a holiday season? Regarding attendance, if your group is more social, then the attendance policy could be more flexible to allow relationships to develop naturally. If you will be covering content or a specific program, the commitment to attendance needs to be higher. Also set an expectation about whether or not members need to notify someone when they’re going to miss so that the rest of the group isn’t wondering or worrying. If they miss, maybe they could email out their thoughts about the week’s homework. If anyone borrows the DVD or other material, how/when will they be expected to return it?
6. Decide on Materials
Who will decide on the material to study – the church or the group itself? Are any programs open to be considered, or will you as the leader give the group options to choose between? Who will pay for the materials?
7. Clarify Details
- What kind of refreshments will be offered? Who will provide or coordinate it?
- What about childcare?
- Will you rotate hosts, stay at the same home for each meeting, or meet at the church?
8. Establish Your Leadership Style
Know that your leadership style is up to you, but keep in mind that good organization, people skills and problem solving abilities are needed to lead a great small group. If you don’t naturally have these qualities, recruit some helpers to keep you on track!
Give your group time to get established. Be patient and consistent in guiding your group according to the goals you have set, and you’ll soon see it headed toward the “win” you have decided to aim for!
Watch a 50-minute webinar that presents this information below: