A leader is one who guides, organizes, or directs people or a process toward a desired end. In order for a small group to accomplish its purposes, it must have a leader who can guide and direct it. The leader must decide what the group will do each meeting, as well as how it will be done. The leader also must conduct the meetings and take steps to make sure they are effective and productive.
Leadership tasks include (but are not limited to): Continue reading
To my mother and all of you mothers out there, Happy (belated I admit) Mother’s Day! Here are a few tips on using an upcoming or just passed Mother’s Day to generate meaningful conversation in your group. These tips generally relate to “sharing questions”.
As I will discuss later on, sharing questions can be powerful tools to build relationships among the members of the group as they are given the opportunity to share about themselves with the others in the group. Some sharing questions demand less authenticity, some demand more, and most give great flexibility to everyone in this regard, so that those who aren’t ready, don’t feel pressured.
Having someone share their life with you, that is a gift worth receiving, and…. it is also a gift worth giving.
Some questions to generate meaningful sharing around Mother’s Day: Continue reading
As we look at the Scriptures we see that spiritual growth is one of the primary purposes of the church. Jesus told the parables of the soils. The point he was making was that the growth of the plant was dependent upon the seed as well as the soil. The seed is surely a symbol of God’s word. God’s word affirms elsewhere that an understanding of His word is necessary for spiritual growth to occur (I Pet. 2:2).
Small groups provide a perfect setting to study and discuss God’s word, not only its meaning but also its application to our lives. Spiritual growth is also certainly dependent upon the type of soil it falls. The soil refers to the hearts of you and I. We must not have hard hearts but receptive hearts, eager to learn and obey the Scriptures out of love for Christ. Continue reading
Spiritual growth is all about growing in one’s relationship with God, thereby requiring growth in love, faith, hope, obedience, dependence, and prayer. An honest look at our spiritual lives quickly brings us to realize that this doesn’t just happen from hearing God’s word taught on a Sunday morning.
Although that is needed, and is a critical part of our spiritual growth, so much more must take place for us to continue to surrender the areas of our lives to him for his guidance and control. This happens in a unique way in small groups. Continue reading
Biblical fellowship, or what I call here “community”, is the relationships that exist when believers are, because they are members of one another and a part of God’s family together, are living out and fulfilling God’s wishes, commands, and principles in relationship to one another. That is, they are bearing one another’s burdens, serving one another, forgiving one another, loving one another, being patient with one another, etc. They are using their gifts in ministry for the benefit of one another. Continue reading
God designed us to live in relationship to him and in relationship to one another. Today we live in a society where people have grown up not experiencing healthy relationships with others. Literally, they don’t know what it means to love another, to serve, to trust, to forgive or even to be a real part of other’s lives outside of their immediate family (which is often not healthy). Small groups provide a laboratory for them to learn and experience this kind of community that they have never seen nor experienced before. Several factors in today’s culture, as compared with previous generations, makes the need for structures to learn to experience Christian Community even stronger:
- Two parent families are becoming rare, television and the internet are our children’s chief companions;
- Job “community” is no more because job security is non-existent and people change careers quite often throughout their lives;
- The neighborhood as a place of community is no more – most people don’t even know their neighbors;
- People are mobile and move from one location to another, making the development of friendships difficult if not impossible;
- We have become a spectator culture where “reality TV” has replaced reality. Pseudo-community is much easier; Continue reading
To determine how small groups will fit into the overall purpose of the church is of paramount importance. It may be somewhat different depending upon the size of the church, the location of the church, and the particular culture that church is found in. However to understand the possibilities for small group purposes, we must first understand the overall purpose of the church. Although people group the church’s purposes somewhat differently and go by different names, the church’s purposes generally fall into the following:
- Evangelism (relationship and ministry to non-believers)
- Fellowship (relationships with one another)
- Worship (relationship and submission to God)
- Edification (ministry to one another for spiritual growth)
A word should be said about “church growth.” Continue reading
The primary purposes that small groups can effectively accomplish are then:
- Building Christian Community;
- Cultivating Spiritual Growth;
- Enhancing Prayer and Worship; and
- Providing Opportunities for Outreach.
The form and structure of the small group ministry and the small group itself must be decided upon with a view to accomplishing these purposes. Particularly, if the small group ministry does not accomplish the first two purposes, then its fulfillment through the local church will be severely compromised. Whatever else is done, if small groups are not maximized to build community and cultivate spiritual growth, then the fulfillment of these purposes in the local church will not be met to this degree.
Small groups can provide opportunities for outreach. These outreach opportunities are largely built upon and see their success as a result of the relationships that have been established in the group. Jesus’ words “all men will know you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another” is the primary and natural means of outreach through these groups. The groups themselves typically would create these outreach opportunities through “social events” or other activities they might have together or with others that provide low barrier opportunities for unsaved spouses or friends to meet and spend time with members of the group. If a particular group has an emphasis upon outreach them the group’s unique over-riding purpose might be to reach out to others and the structure of the group will be developed to support that primary purpose.
Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God as well as a way that we express our worship. Small groups provide a unique opportunity for enhancing prayer and worship in our lives. Specifically, in small groups we can learn from others how to pray and we can experience prayer for ourselves in this group setting. Prayer in this setting can also be unique because it can be directed for others in the group, as a means of expressing faith toward God and love for others at the same time. Prayer for others’ communicated needs is a powerful expression of the love of God. Music can be introduced into the group and singing can be integrated into the group life at the right time as an expression of worship.