As I observe community life around me, I see that over time groups can tend to be more “exclusive” rather than “inclusive.” There seems to be a tendency to gradually build up walls around our group when deciding who fits and who doesn’t. Rather than reflecting Jesus’ inclusive love toward those around us, we find reasons to be exclusive.
Without a vision and missional purpose, programs in the church become extremely self-serving and have minimal benefit to the overall mission of the church to reach the lost and disciple them... Small groups in the life of the church ministry are no different. I'm reposting this from January because of the crazy amount of consulting I've been doing on this topic.
For many years within the small group realm there has been a lot of discussion on whether small groups should be open or closed. Perhaps our default mode especially in our CRC communities is to err on the side of being comfortable and thus short-circuiting true discipleship... This repost has a lot o reads but would be better with some discussion :-)
Asking good questions is almost an art form in my opinion. I'm talking about well-phrased, intentional, smart questions that open people up to get to the heart of the matter. Smart, well-placed questions can take your small group to a whole new level of sharing and growth.
December is busy enough. So who wants another event? Why not maximize your normal December activities by inviting someone along. Or you could use the most of the December opportunities to grow and start new small groups in January. Here are some good things to consider.
I know for myself that I lead by doing and coming alongside potential and present leaders to encourage, support and train them. It is usually the case that when there is a lack of leadership it is because there is no environment or atmosphere of leadership development happening in the church.
Read an interview with Todd Murphy, a pastor who has incorporated the gospel into his own life and the life of his church. Learn how people who have been in the church all their life have been dramatically changed. In addition, discover how outreach is radically different when people in the church believe and live out the gospel in their own lives.
The Sonship material comes in various formats, some which are shorter and less intensive than others. When considering how to use Sonship, it should be noted that more is better. However, being exposed to the material in any of several formats has value.
"Time flies when you're having fun." I guess I would say that would be my mantra too having been the guide of the Network's Small Groups section for some sixteen months or so. I don't know where the time went. And now that I'm moving on I thought I'd just do a little reflecting.
A metaphor that has helped me understand and lead small group ministry is this: Growing a small group discipleship ministry is like growing a garden. Small group coordinators and leaders must ask gardening questions. How would you answer these questions about your small group ministry?
Looking for a way to mobilize more people in evangelism in 1999, a few of us at church stumbled on to the Alpha Course. We were drawn to it because it offered a simple way to involve people in bringing the Gospel to their friends. We got a small pilot group together, followed the instructions, and went for it.
Alpha is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, where guests can explore the meaning of life and ask questions in a non-threatening, relaxed setting. The traditional Alpha course is 10 weeks long and includes a day or weekend-long retreat half-way through the course.
Ferns and small groups are both fractals. Fractals are complex forms made up of simple repeated patterns. Small groups are formed by repeating patterns or values. What patterns are you building into your small group? Are they positive or negative?
The CRC that nurtured my growth as a child taught me that Jesus saves and is present for me to reach out to in prayer in times of need. There were also lessons about discipleship that the church of my childhood never taught me.
What do you do? I am a “facilitative, organizing catalyst who brings energy, creativity andpassion to change or development-oriented efforts (catalyst) through building structures, methods or programs (organizing) that equip, empower or provide tools for growth (facilitative).” That is a mouth full.
Imagine small group leaders and teams standing as scarecrows over our groups and ministries to guard against Satan’s assaults. Farmers place scarecrows in gardens because the farmer expects birds to go after his seeds. It is naïve of us to not be ready for Satan’s attempts to wreak havoc in our Christian communities.
With all the choices of small group options, why choose sermon based small groups? Two selling points are: 1) it allows people at a variety of spiritual stages to dig deeper than a thirty minute message, and 2) it takes little preparation for either the facilitator or the group member.
We are still in the early stages of this small group experiment, but so far the results have been great. As pastors, we feel the congregation is more involved and interacting with the weekend messages. The format means that we don’t have to create something new — it flows out of what we are already doing.
Allow me to share some insights I’ve learned as I’ve coached churches through intentional faith development that will help you work a plan that will actually bear fruit by producing better disciples across your congregation.