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Big Steps for Small Groups

John Gilman June 21, 2016

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Small Groups. We know they’re important for the health of a church community. More than that, they are a crucial vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. Conferences, books, and forums of all sorts have been created to aid the Church in formulating, maintaining, and growing groups. And yet, the task is still a difficult one.

Let’s just assume that your church launched a groups ministry and a decent amount of people are attending in a regular fashion. Chances are, your church has hit a “peak” percentage of group involvement. A big reason for this, is because the people who already have a value for small groups were just waiting for the opportunity. The rest of your church – the ones who don’t know, don’t care, or don’t understand – simply don’t go. Now what?

Knowing how valuable groups are to the church and to the individuals who comprise them, how will you compel the onlookers to dive in and get growing?

To help your church develop a great group ministry, we’ve compiled a list of tried and true tips that are sure to add new life to your groups.

1) Get The Best Leaders

People want to go to groups that are organized, insightful, valuable, and fun. A great leader can facilitate all those things. If you have a bunch of great leaders, but they are just too busy, consider co-leaders who can share the load. Or, if you meet in homes, host the group at a home different from the leader’s. That way, the host and leader are in it together, creating initial buy-in that group members will sense and appreciate.

2) Train Leaders AND Members

Much is said about leadership development in the church. And, rightfully so. But when it comes to groups, it’s important to speak to both leaders and members, so everyone is on the same page. You should definitely provide training for leaders so they know how to facilitate group discussion, how to resolve conflict, and how to infuse the culture of your church. But, members will also be empowered to participate when they know what is expected of them, what to expect, and how this whole “groups” thing is supposed to work.

3) Use Good Curriculum

Nothing will support a good leader like great curriculum. Whether it’s an established, popular study tool or unique lessons involving the teachings of your church, it needs to be thought through. The goal here is to have a plan that will move people from where they are, to where they need to be. When group members have fun in discussion, see benefit in their life, and are encouraged by others, it’s a win. In all, make sure you choose material that fosters participation and discussion. This is a group, not a Sunday sermon.

4) Commandeer The Senior Pastor

Your senior pastor has a lot of great uses. He or she may also have a great deal of responsibility. However, odds are high that most of the people in your church are drawn to the leadership and personality of the senior pastor. This affinity can be parlayed into influence. If the senior pastor promotes groups from the stage, through example, and in other forms of communication, it will add extra oomph to the effort of the groups ministry leader.

5) Share The Stories

Nothing has the power to motivate people like a good review. But, reviews aren’t just for restaurants and movies. When people who have good group experiences start sharing them, it serves as an endorsement of the value and benefit of getting involved in groups. When people see how fun and transformational groups can be, they’ll be more inclined to hop the fence and get involved.

Lastly, support the groups that are doing the best. If they are growing, they might be doing something right. When they grow big enough, consider multiplying that group into two. This will ensure that the healthy culture of the healthy group continues to permeate throughout the church.

Groups are important. Take the time to put practices in place that will support this ongoing effort.

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