Where Do We Start?
It’s exciting to start something new. Our imaginations start imagining and we are so excited at the potential of this new endeavor. Wise people ask questions of those who are a step ahead of them, collect information from books, search the web and pray a lot. And then they pray some more.
Before launching a new small group ministry, it’s important to take enough time to set a firm foundation for the ministry. There are four initial questions to answer before starting a small group ministry.
- What’s the purpose of our church’s small group ministry?
Answering this question is essential to a healthy, sustainable small group ministry. It sets direction and gives a point of evaluation down the line. Church leaders need to be clear on why the church is starting small groups. It involves asking additional questions such as. . .
- What’s the role of small groups and spiritual formation?
- How will small groups carry out the mission of the church?
- How will small groups be catalysts for carrying out God’s mission?
- Who will lead and support the small group ministry?
Somebody, or better yet a team of people, needs to accept the responsibility of being the point leader for the small group ministry. Some churches hire a staff person to take the lead, others use volunteers. Use what fits best in your church, but it’s essential to know who is responsible to oversee the ministry as a whole.
- What are our connection pathways?
Small groups are all about connections. Some of the connection points are within the church itself.
- How are leaders connected to groups?
- How are small group members connected into groups?
- Who are the small group leaders accountable to?
- Who supports the point leaders of the small group ministry?
- How will small groups connect with other ministries in the church?
Think about the broader connections.
- How will small groups connect with serving opportunities in the community or neighborhood?
- How will they connect with community agencies already in place?
- How will we pilot small groups?
There are a variety of ways to pilot your first small groups. Consider these possibilities:
- Start a short term “turbo group” where people learn about small group life as they experience it. The goal of a turbo group is that each person starts a small group after this learning experience.
- Use a pre-packaged, all-church campaign to give people a taste of small group life. Be sure to plan what shape groups will take after the campaign is finished.
- Design your own sermon-based small group campaign experience which casts a vision for group life specific to your church’s vision.
- Several weeks before your small groups begin, host a “Small Group Ministry Fair” where group leaders creatively set up information stations about their groups. This gives people a chance to ask questions and decide which group they will join.
- Host a “Taste of Small Groups” lunch (or several) after the week-end services where people experience a bit of small group life over a meal and are presented the vision for small groups. New small groups may form out of those present, or interested people may decide to join an existing group.