Hey all, Happy 10 Days until Christmas Eve!
Last week we began a re-cap of our Leader Huddle in November by talking about 3 areas we can each focus on to help the people in our Groups grow to be more like Christ, and we began by focusing on Leadership. If you didn’t get the chance to read through that post, please take a minute to read it here before moving on to the information below.
PART 2: WINNING IN YOUR GROUP TIME
While leadership has to be our first focus, there are some “wins” we can focus on during our group meetings that are key to helping people become more like Jesus. Before we get too far into this point, I want to acknowledge that many of the ideas below came from the book: “The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders” by Bill Search, which is available on Amazon here.
GROUP TIME WINS
- God First. While we gather for many good reasons, the primary reason we gather is to pursue God together. As you plan for your group time each week, God must be at the center of it. If we continually point people toward him, they are far more likely to follow him.
- Bible not opinions. Sharing openly and honestly about our opinions is an important part of group life, but the Bible must take ultimate authority. When there is a question, we should study his Word and ultimately do what it says.
- Sharing openly. While this may seem contrary to the previous point, we need the people in our groups to share openly and honestly. We have to value vulnerability in conversation and encourage everyone to share. Honesty and vulnerability help us see where people are coming from, and until we know where they are coming from, we can’t help them take next steps.
- Share Leadership. This is one of those great ideas I “borrowed” from the book I mentioned above. One of the best ways to help people in our groups grow is to invite them into leadership. In fact, I would recommend encouraging each person in your group to take a turn leading the group. If leading a whole group time is too much, invite them to take a portion of a group and coach them through it. As we know, when someone has to prepare for something, they tend to learn it themselves in a deeper way. Not only that, but it might give them a greater appreciation for what you do each week. 🙂
- Spiritual Goals. Each person develops spiritually at a different pace, and while there are some things about spiritual growth that are systematic, many times the steps to spiritual growth vary from one individual to the next. With that in mind, our goal as a leader should be to help each person in our group take the next step in their personal faith journey. As the shepherd of our group, we should be intentional about setting a goal for each person in our group, and then helping them work toward that goal. On a broader sense, we should also be intentional about setting spiritual goals as a group. Another idea I got from the book above is to take two meetings each year (beginning of fall and beginning of January) to set spiritual goals for your group. Not only would this re-focus your group, but it would remind them of the bigger reason you gather.
LEADING GREAT DISCUSSIONS
Another way to win in your group time is to lead great discussions. We all know the pain of discussions that don’t go well. While there is no formula for a great discussion, here are some ideas to focus on.
- Environment. This one is easy. Is your environment conducive to conversation or does it detract from conversation? What could you do to improve your environment?
- Be Prepared – Know the Point. If you’ve ever tried to fake your way through group time, you know the pain of not being prepared. Preparation is fundamental to a successful conversation. Not only should you know your content, but you should know “the point” and then do everything in your power to make sure that point gets across.
- Manage Group Time Well. This goes back to being a leader and a manager. As the manager of your group, you are responsible to watch the clock and move things along in order to make sure you arrive where you want to be.
- Ask Great Questions. Yes, I realize this is easier said than done. However here are some thoughts to help.
- First, prep out loud. Sometimes things sound better in your mind than they do coming out of your mouth. When you prep out loud you can hear the awkwardness and adjust prior to group time.
- Secondly, make sure that your questions are open-ended. It surprises me how often curriculum writers use simple-answer or yes/no type questions. These types of questions shut down conversation. Open ended questions encourage conversation. Also, if you ask a question that leads to simple answers, consider asking the person a follow up question like “Why do you think that’s true?”
- Focus on What?, So What?, and Now What? In other words, What are we talking about? Why does it matter? and How should my life change as a result of knowing this?
- Be careful not to shut down conversation. There are two easy ways to shut down conversation. The first is to jump in too quickly when there is a period of silence. Silence is often a sign that people are thinking. If you feel awkward about the silence, instead of jumping in, ask the group if the question made sense. The other way of shutting down conversation is to praise the right answer. Sure it might be right, but if you praise it, you inadvertenly communicate to the group that all other answers are wrong, and nobody wants to share a wrong answer.
SHARE YOUR STORY
One of the most important things you can do to encourage spiritual growth in your group is to share your story, and encourage others to do the same. Our stories have the power to encourage, inspire, and challenge one another. If you haven’t done this in your group before (or in awhile), I would encourage you to go first, and then invite the rest of your group to share in subsequent weeks. Here is a resource you can share with your group to help them prepare to tell their story: https://groupleaders.org/blog-feed/using-a-life-map-to-tell-your-story
5 GROWTH KILLERS
While we’ve talked about a number of things that can help your group grow, I want to leave you today with 5 things that can kill growth in your group. Again, this was taken directly from “The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders” by Bill Search .
- Gossip. Sharing anything that you don’t have permission to share from the person you are sharing about.
- Leader Bashing. Yes, us Pastor types can be frustrating, but group isn’t the right environment to discuss it. Having said that, if someone in your group is frustrated with a church leader, please encourage them to talk to the leader directly.
- Church Bashing. Some of the deepest scars people carry are the ones caused by a church. While group can be a safe place to discuss these scars and grow, group is not a place to bash other churches.
- Sexual history. These types of conversations are not appropriate in the group context, especially in co-ed groups.
- Majoring on the minors. Let’s make sure that we focus on what is truly important.
Well, that’s all for this week. Next week we will talk about winning outside of group time.