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Showing posts from February, 2012

Are Small Groups Really Just Cliques?

I'm a firm believer in the potential of small groups. I believe spiritual formation happens best when we are willing to share life with and submit to a small group of people who will lovingly build our character and help us be attentive to the work of the Spirit in our lives. But there are dangers in small groups. I recently came across a blog post which discussed the fine line between healthy small groups and unhealthy "cliques." Below are some excerpted statements from that post. You can read the entire post at The Spiritual Formation Blog.
A while back, I blogged that healthy small groups are friends. I’m not sure why, but this has recently become the most popular post on my blog. Debra commented,Small groups often divide the church into cliques. The group forms, bonds, and no new people stand a chance of joining them. The more groups there are, the more segregated the church. New people see this right away, feel like an outsider, which they are, and don’t go back.A he…

7 Things You Can Do to Make Your Group More Formative

At Calvary, we talk about growing small groups that are "formative, caring, and missional." Our desire is that every person in every group is being formed into the image of Christ, that they are being cared for and using their gifts to care for others, and that they are partnering with others to accomplish the mission of Jesus in the world.
What makes a small group into a "formative" experience? This is certainly not an exhaustive list. But here are a few elements that when present will aid in a group's formative journey. dedication to finding the best representation of truth possiblecommunal sensitivity to the moving of the Spirithumility to avoid authoritative posturing and proclamationsacceptance of Scriptural authority...being mindful of appropriate interpretationopenness to new ideas and new paradigmsdesire to be corrected and re-formedability to live with tension (mentally, socially, spiritually, etc.)I believe that as group members bring these character tr…

4 Answers You Need About Every Member of Your Group

The following is a blog post by Rick Howerton (you can read the whole thing here). It's a great reminder of what is REALLY important for small group leaders to be thinking about. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the details of planning, growing, and leading our groups that we forget our primary job is to help disciple these friends of ours. Rick suggests four questions we ask ourselves about our group members:
1. Is he or she a follower of Christ? If a small group leader realizes that a group member has not yet crossed the line of faith and become a Christ-follower, the leader needs to 1) make the most of every opportunity the Holy Spirit creates to voice the gospel to that group member, 2) watch the group member closely during group meetings and capture a transformational moment when it occurs, 3) carefully answer any question the group member has and bathe that answer in the person and story of Jesus. 4) Integrate the Gospel into every group conversation when it is possib…

A Discipleship Garden

i have this idea for small groups in churches that emerge up out of the ground. pastors nurture them, fertilizing the ground, watering, weeding, providing stakes when necessary, but don't try to force them into a template. they allow them to find their way. there are no objectives or outcomes. the expectation is simply that they continue to journey together. the question that is asked is not "where are we going?", but rather "who's coming with me?"

4 Questions Small Group Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Many large churches provide a coaching structure for the small group leaders. I'd love to be able to do that at some point, but for now... the coaching is pretty much up to me. That means our leaders need to be a little bit self-sufficient in how they evaluate their small group gatherings. The following lists originated as a series of questions for coaches to ask leaders in their weekly sessions (see the original article here). I've modified it to become a list of FOUR QUESTIONS SMALL GROUP LEADERS SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES: 1. What is the best thing that happened in your group meeting this week? This is not a question about numbers. It’s a qualitative question. Think about key comments in the meeting or important prayer requests, or positive interactions. Who is really demonstrating spiritual growth right now?
2. What’s the worst thing that happened in your group meeting this week? Are there things that aren’t working? Think about why these things happened, and how they could ha…

10 Great Icebreakers for Your Small Group

Here are some great ideas for building relationships in your small group. The website I found these on disappeared several years ago, so I can't cite it...

Anyway here you go, 10 Great Icebreakers For Your Group:

10. Share one food item that best describes the last year of your life. (example: "frozen pizza" because I did a 180-degree turn this year, or "cinnamon roll" because it had lots of twists and turns but overall was pretty sweet)

9. What one item in the kitchen best describes you and your personality?

8. What's your favorite concert you've ever attended?

7. What cartoon character best describes you?

6. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

5. Complete the statement "I recommend..."(it can be a show, movie, book, restaurant, website, activity, etc.)

4. If you knew could you try anything and not fail (and money was no object), what dream would you attempt?

3. What super-power would you most like to have, and why?

7 Signs Your Small Group is Healthy

When was the last time you gave your small group a check-up? How do you know if your group is healthy? How do you know what aspects of your group need improvement? Here's a good evaluation tool you can use.
The following list was originally created by Rick Warren. I've taken his seven main points and modified/enhanced them a bit to be more applicable to my context. Here are Seven Marks of a Healthy Small Group:
1. Healthy small groups study the Bible. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …” The teaching of the apostles is what we call the New Testament today. Every week at Calvary, we provide small group questions that focus on the same passage that was preached on Sunday. The benefit of this is that it helps people focus on one Bible truth, instead of having them try to focus on 5-6 different ideas each week.
2. Healthy small groups share life together. The Book of Acts says the early believers were devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42). Notice the Bib…

How to Handle Conflict in Your Group

Last week, I met with one of our LIFEgroup leaders who is doing a great job leading his group through the awkward stages of growth. Sometimes, growth causes discomfort and that can lead to conflict. This is a repost from last year that uses a story from the life of King David to address conflict resolution.

Conflict is always awkward. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a conflict between two other people? These situations are always awkward, especially when everyone is friends, and deep relationships are at stake. Most small group leaders will face this dilemma at some point in their ministry. What will you do?

2 Samuel tells an interesting story from the life of David that provides us with three great principles to remember when you find yourself trying to help resolve conflict.

David and his followers are on the run from Jerusalem. His son, Absalom, has led a rebellion and seized control of the capitol city. As they leave, they are approached by a man named Ziba who brings t…

5 Easy Steps to Grow More Mature Disciples

As small group leaders, we need to regularly remind ourselves that more than anything else, we want to be growing disciples. We want to see people constantly being formed to look more like Jesus.
I picked up these five easy steps to discipleship from Eddie Moseley's blog. If nothing else, these are good reminders of the types of things we want to be thinking about as we lead our groups.
1. Identify: prayerfully identify five people God is leading you to disciple; (help become more like Christ tomorrow than they are today.) You know God is also working in their lives to prepare them, so why not ask Him who you are supposed to be walking with?
2. Enlist: Talk with each of the five individually and invite them to be part of your group. Clearly explain what is expected. When I asked men to join my group I also clearly explained that this was a weekly meeting for an hour, daily reading from the Bible and a manual and they would be asked to repeat this process with 5 people in the next…