Leading a small group ministry or Coffee Break ministry is like tending a garden. In order for plants to thrive, a gardener ensures that there is a healthy environment for growth with good soil, adequate sunlight, and proper drainage. A gardener also provides plants with ongoing care through regular watering, feeding, bug control and disease prevention. Similarly, small group leaders continually work to create a safe place for members to grow spiritually and to discover their Bible by providing a welcoming environment, building relationships, listening well, asking good questions and making room for personal discovery. And, just as a gardener continues to nurture the plants in their garden as they grow, a small group leader also provides ongoing care to their members — even when they’re apart!
Before I left for vacation last year I did an online search to find out how to keep my plants watered while I was away. I was amazed at what I found! For short trips you can water house plants with hydro spikes, self-watering probes, plant nannies or aqua globes. The “Perkey Posey Premium Self-watering Ceramic Probe” looks like a flower and contains little devices that you place in your pots, and presto — they stay watered! My favorite for outdoor watering was the “Drip Irrigation Rock.” A big, plastic “rock” that holds five gallons of water, it comes in sandstone or while granite, so that you can match your garden decor! Who knew?
Before you break for the summer you may be wondering about the “plants” in your small group. How will they stay healthy during your time apart? I did a search for ideas — asking small group leaders just like you — and here are the “watering” techniques I found:
- A small group in Bradenton, FL group continues to meet every other week with a more laid back format. There is no homework and individuals can participate when they are available. Usually they have a book they study or a video series.
- A group in Alameda, CA plans a midsummer potluck for the last week in July or the first week in August. They pick a date and everyone brings something. Throughout the summer months they also pray for each other and stay in touch through email.
- Email contact also works well for another group who says that meeting in person was just too difficult for them.
- The Prinsburg, MN Coffee Break put on special hats and gloves for a midsummer Coffee Party in the gazebo of a group members’ farm.
- Several groups said they arrange to meet either weekly or monthly at a local park or beach. Some told me that they find it helpful to schedule these gatherings for the same time that their Coffee Break normally meets during the education year.
- Other groups reported they offer a short, four or five week Bible study during the summer months.
What have fun ways have you stay connected to your groups during break times? Please share those ideas with us here by emailing me here or by posting your comments on the Network site.
Watering your plants while you’re away is important — but so is ‘watering’ yourself! Be sure to take time this summer to refuel, recharge and refresh. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4) Enjoy remaining!