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Showing posts from March, 2011

10 Easy Ways to Ruin a Small Group Meeting

This list comes from the blog of Rick Howerton. Read it here. The small group leader is late.The coffee is cold, the entrée is burned, and the plastic forks break on that entrée.There’s not enough food for everyone.It’s so hot in the room people are sweating.It’s so cold group members ask for blankets.The hosts won’t put their cat in another room and some group members are allergic to it.The lighting is so dim group members have to squint to read. Group members answer their cell phones during meetings.Group members are texting during the meeting.Group members are texting one another during the meeting.Get Rick's Book Here: Destination: Community Small Group Manual

52 Ideas for Small Group Activities

The following is a list of possible small group activities. This list and lots of other group resources can be found at Josh Hunt's blog. 1. Have a party the first half of the group meeting. Have everyone bring food, and use the time to talk and laugh and maybe play some games. 2. Have a group picnic. 3. Go to a baseball game. 4. Clean a widow’s house. 5. Serve in the church nursery. 6. Play softball. 7. Have a married couples’ date night. 8. Visit and hold a worship service in a nursing home. 9. Attend a Christian conference or seminar. 10. Go for a bike ride. 11. Camp together. 12. Mow and clean up a retired man’s lawn. 13. Serve food to the poor and homeless in a soup kitchen. 14. Serve as greeters or parking lot attendants for weekend services. 15. Have a cookout. 16. Go bowling. 17. Play volleyball. 18. Pass out Bibles door-to-door. 19. Take a short-term missions trip. 20. Go out to eat at a nice restaurant. 21. Put a roof on a disabled man’s house. 22. Take Christmas dinner …

3 Simple Ways to Encourage People in Your Small Group

Whether you are a group member or leader, commit to sending an encouraging email or note to at least one other group member each week.

Have an “encouragement” time-out. For five minutes no one is allowed to say anything other than sincere encouraging words to one another.

Affirm others when you see them using their gifts to serve God and people.

(it's really that easy!)

More on Group Building: Youth Group Trust Builders

5 Expectations We Should Have for One Another

Think of these as the rules that should govern not just your time together as a group, but the rest of your life as well. Imagine what a community might look like if everyone was committed to living out these simple principles:
Graciously speak the truth at all times.Attempt to meet the needs of those around you if it is within your ability.Give your best effort, particularly when you are being compensated.Assume people's actions are motivated by the best of intentions.Think first of the possibilities rather than the obstacles.

14 Hints for Helping a New Group Grow Together

One of the biggest hurdles a new small group faces is getting acquainted with one another. Keeping the following thoughts in mind, and trying to put them into action can help pull a group together more quickly:
1. Everyone’s name should be known by everyone.2. People will usually talk about their family and their job.3. Everybody has a soap-box, let them get on it every so often with no consequences.4. Talking about the different places you’ve lived is a great way to tell your life story.5. A simple way to get to know each other: Tell your favorite vacation story.6. Some people love to talk about themselves, and others hate it. Don’t expect equal participation.7. Two hours spent playing table games together is one of the most useful things your group can ever do.8. Food always accelerates intimacy.9. The more you can encourage people to talk about each other (in positive ways, when they’re together!) the more everyone will feel accepted.10. When people are willing to talk about their d…

How to Enhance Your Discussions Without Even Asking Questions

Asking good questions is an important part of leading a succesful group, but sometimes the best gift you can offer your group is not a question at all, but rather a simple statement. Imagine the following scenario:
You've asked one of your finely crafted questions, and Janice, a young Christian who doesn't usually say very much, gives a hesitating answer, that shows she's on the right track. You can tell by the wrinkled forehead that she has got a lot more thoughts in her mind, but is unsure about her first answer, so has not said any more. So now is your chance to deploy the finest two words in Bible study history. 
Are you ready for them?
Take a deep breath and repeat after me: "Go on"Say these two words out loud now - they will change the face of your home group forever!
"Go on"These words say loads of things to Jittery Janice, or shrinking Stephen, or hesitant Hannah, or timid Trevor. They tell them: You're on the right trackI'm interested in the …

5 Tools to Help You Lead More Effective Discussions

One of the key skills for a small group leader is the ability to effectively lead a discussion. This should be something we are ALWAYS trying to improve. Here's five good thoughts on how we can do this better:
Get comfortable with the three magic words — ‘Do you think’(and ‘Do you feel’, ‘Do you imagine’, etc). Use questions like ‘What do you think Paul means by X?’ are much more effective than ‘What does Paul mean by X?’ It seems to me that one of the distinctive strengths of small groups is the opportunity they provide to wrestle togetherwith what the Bible says and discuss how to respond to him.Take the initiative to make yourself vulnerable and share your struggles. If you long for your group to be real with each other, you’ve got to set the tone. Actually draw on all that stuff you’ve heard about different learning styles. It’s really important to make room for and support people who are more visual, hands-on or less inclined to feel confident sharing their views.Try to walk t…

Potential Pitfalls and Benefits of Small Groups

I found this list at Andy Naselli's blog. You can read the entire post here

Potential Pitfalls of Small Group Bible Study The vertical pushed out by the horizontal: they can turn into little more than social groups.The message sidelined by the method: members can become addicts to one way of encountering God.The blind led by the blind: meetings can become simply opportunities to pool ignorance.Benefits of Small Group Bible Study A good place to listen to God: each can help the others study the Bible.A good place to talk to God: each can pray for the others in an informed way.A good place to care for one another: each can carry the others’ burdens.A good place from which to reach the lost: members can work together to advance the gospel.This is a good reminder that even good things come with inherent dangers. We must be careful to guide our small groups toward these benefits and away from the pitfalls.

Check out the book from which Andy got these lists: Iron Sharpens Iron: Leading B…

10 Ideas for Building Relationships at Church

This list was originally designed for people working in children's ministry, but it is certainly applicable to small groups as well.  Here are 10 ways to build relationships with those around you:

1. Recognize birthdays. 2. Take time to get to know people. 3. Invite people to a Small Group. . 4. Meet outside the 4 walls of the church.

5. Send personal notes. 6. Invite people over to your home.

Small Groups Create An Ideal Space for Learning to Serve

For many years, we've tried to develop a small group culture at Calvary that included a focus on mission. While every group's mission might be different, we want to have groups that exist for a purpose beyond simply meeting together.

I'm luck to be part of a group that has really embraced the idea of being a missional group. In addition to serving at a local soup kitchen each month, several of our members are becoming more engaged with the local school systems and this spring we'll be partnering with a local neighborhood group in their creation of a "Garden of Hope."

This recent blog post highlights some of the requirements for leading a missional small group.

In the end, I'm convinced that having small groups engage mission creates a wonderful balance of accomplishing mission and empowering people to serve. It's simply easier to serve others if you are doing it with your friends. Small Groups provide an ideal entry point for people to begin serving ev…

4 Steps to Empower Spiritual Growth in Your Small Group

We do the "small group thing" for a lot of different reasons. We want to help people develop healthy relationships, we want them to be connected to our church, we want them to have a place where they can care and be cared for, we want them to do mission together, we want them to have a place to receive prayer and support. More than anything else, though (hopefully), we want them to grow to be more like Jesus. So here are four steps that can enable your group to help one another grow. How you enact these steps will depend on the culture of your group and the strengths of your own leadership style. You may even want to modify them a bit, after all, they aren't inspired: 1) Observe
- Know yourself, identify growth areas, determine how you need to be more Christ-like. This is mostly character assessment, NOT habit-assessment.
2) Covenant
- Set goals to improve. Be specific. Share your goals with your LIFEgroup.
3) Encourage
- Remind each other. Pray for each other. Support each …

A Simple 4-Step Process to Leading Small Group Gatherings

The following steps are meant to provoke ideas and be a guide. You'll need to fill in the blanks in ways that are appropriate for your group:

1. Relate -- Before your gathering officially begins, make sure that everyone feels connected. Pay close attention to the environment being created and especially notice if anyone is unusually withdrawn or downcast.

2. Review -- For many people, group time is a "break" from life. Give them a chance to talk about what is going on in their lives. They might update prayer requests from previous weeks, or share new challenges and goals they are pursuing.

3. Read and React -- Spend time in God's Word (use discussion guides if necessary). Talk about it, let it sink in. Allow as many as desire to talk about how this passage is going to impact their life moving forward.

4. Reach -- Before you leave give everyone a chance to reach out to the group for help, and give the group a chance to reach out to each other in assistance. Reaching for e…

Doing Discipleship Like Jesus Did Discipleship

Ekklesia Church in Detroit utilizes "D-Groups" for discipleship (a rose by any other name, right?). They have an official statement about why this is their primary discipleship vehicle. It looks like this:
Jesus had many disciples, but He spent most of His time developing twelve men (Mark 3:13-19). His most influential ministry took place in His discipleship group. Because Jesus did it this way, we will do the same. We offer a variety of D-Groups that meet during the week.This is a very simple and clear defense of small group discipleship. I wonder what it would look like to try to intentionally create relational interactions in our small groups that mirrored the relational interactions Jesus had with His disciples. It might be that the chronological, geographical, and cultural differences are too great; or it might be that this practice would be a goldmine of discipleship effectiveness.

Just something to think about.