The speed and necessity of moving to virtual small groups shook the foundation for developing disciples in many large churches. Overnight small groups were going from in-person meetings to meetings via Zoom. These groups became more than just intentional gatherings to help build relationships with Christ and Grow His Kingdom. For many small groups, it became their connection to the outside world.
This practice had both positive and negative effects. The positive was that it gave individuals a support system for the challenges they were facing at the time. The negative was that small groups strayed from their mission of building relationships with Christ. They may not have completely abandoned this mission, but many groups started “doing their own thing.” Today, some groups may still be in the habit of “doing their own thing.” So how can you be sure they aren’t undermining the success of your small group mission?
Revisit your small group program regularly. Gather your leaders to discuss and remind them of the mission of your small group program. Address questions and any issues from previous sessions. Be sure to review and discuss ways to enhance participation in the curriculum. By initiating this process, you’ll be sure to have a successful start for each session.
Supporting your small-group leaders will be an essential part of ensuring the success of your small-group program. One way to do this is by providing your leaders with a coach. A coach can offer suggestions and ideas. Or help address issues within a group. A coach’s role isn’t to check up on your leaders. But to guide, pray with, and advise your leaders. Regularly communicating with their coach is the key to the leader’s success. Providing this support shows leaders that they matter and are critical to the church’s success.
Recruiting coaches may be as simple as looking at your most experienced and successful leaders. It may seem counterintuitive to remove these leaders from their roles. But using them to train and mentor new leaders will bear many more successful fruits (leaders).
Whether you are creating your small group curriculum, or buying or using a free program, it must serve your church’s mission. Making a list for selecting a curriculum can ensure each session hits the mark. Some things to consider:
- Does it align with your church’s theology, style, and values?
- Where is the material sourced from? (The Bible, a sermon series, etc.)
- Who wrote the material?
- Does the church leadership have a preference?
- What length of program do you want? 6-12 weeks
- What format(s) is the content presented in? (video, workbook, online, etc.)
- Does the learning involve active or passive participation?
Involving church leadership in your curriculum is a beneficial part of the plan and may ensure synergy with each Sunday’s message from the pulpit.
Be sure to consider the demographics of your small group participants, too. How much time is needed to prepare outside of group time? Make sure the homework isn’t too burdensome or academic for your group. A successful small group program may look different from church to church. However, an indicator of a successful program in every church should be that it engages and activates the participant’s faith, which ultimately grows God’s Kingdom.
A successful small group program is essential for the growth of your church. By implementing a coaching program and having a curriculum that is synergistic with your culture, you will ensure your small group program is Growing the Kingdom by making disciples.
For more information on small groups, download the ‘Make Everyone Feel Known’ guide now!
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