By Rev. Charlie Holt
Since most activities take a summer break, it offers the perfect opportunity to either form a new small group Bible study if you currently don't participate in one or to fine tune your current group to make it even better. If you are in a group, get feedback from current members on what is going well and where each thinks you have opportunities to enhance the experience. Make it even better!
If you are not in a group, start one. Summer offers an awesome time to do a 'test run'. Commit to a short study (say 4 or 6 weeks), and see what God can do in and through you. Often, people avoid making indefinite commitments. It feels scary and overwhelming. However, summer offers the ideal time to try out small groups and find out the difference they can make in your life.
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”: Sit down and consider WHY your group will be in existence. 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: 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. Be sure to clarify the confidentiality of the group. Consider having members sign or verbally commit to a written group covenant.
4. DEFINE LEADERSHIP: Decide what kind of leader you will be and what help you need to recruit. 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? Will you break for the summer or a holiday season? What kind of attendance policy will you have? Consider 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 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 those? 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!
Small Group Resources:
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