GT Update |Dec 14

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.


LEADER HUDDLE NOV 19.016While 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 🙂
  5. 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.


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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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:


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 .

  1. Gossip.  Sharing anything that you don’t have permission to share from the person you are sharing about.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Sexual history.  These types of conversations are not appropriate in the group context, especially in co-ed groups.
  5. 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.

Thanks, JG


GT Update | Dec 7

Hello all, as promised this week’s post is a follow up on the Huddle we had a few weeks ago.  Honestly, the things we talked about that evening have been stirring in my mind for the last few weeks.  I am excited to implement them in my group.  If you were there, hopefully this will be a good reminder.  If you were unable to make it that evening, please read through and let me know if you have questions.



As we ate dinner, each table answered these questions.  While it’s probably not as much fun on your own, it is worthwhile to think through your win, struggle and greatest hope for your group or class.  Thinking through these can help you as you plan your trajectory for the winter and spring.



LEADER HUDDLE NOV 19.004One of the most important questions I have for you is “What do you need to succeed?”  My desire is to provide the tools, resources, or answers you need to make the most of your experience as a leader.  Please take a minute to think through anything that could help you succeed, and then please email me and let me know.  Just to be clear, a life-size cutout of Brian Talty is not essential to your success. 🙂


LEADER HUDDLE NOV 19.008In our Huddle in August we talked about the goal of our groups being to help the people in them become more like Jesus.  But, that is a tough goal to measure.  How do we know if the people in our groups and classes are more like Jesus today than they were 3 months ago?  Sometimes, the most important thing we can do is clarify the wins that get us to achieving that goal.  In other words, we need to figure out what we want to look back on and celebrate.  The following thoughts are ideas that I believe push us toward our ultimate goal.

There are 3 areas we can focus on to help the people in our Groups grow. 

EDIT: As I began writing this post, I realized it was going to be extremely long.  So, I am going to focus on one of these areas each of the next 3 weeks.  Here is part 1.



I want to start with a disclaimer.  Every leader from time-to-time questions whether they are qualified to lead and if they are doing a good job.  I want you to know that I believe each of you are doing a good job (even when it doesn’t feel like it), and God has placed you in this role for this season, so you are qualified through the Spirit.

So, Please don’t read the following and feel discouraged, and if your group is struggling, please come talk to me.  I would love to offer some encouragement and help you figured out next steps.

Having said that, here are some key ways to “win” as a leader, and ultimately help the people in your group become more like Jesus.

  1. Attitude reflects leadership.  Please keep in mind that your attitude about your group is contagious.  If you are passionate about growth, your group will most likely be passionate about growth.  If you are phoning it in each week, your group will likely follow suit.
  2. You are the greatest influence on your group.  Yes, ultimately God is the one doing the work, but the time you invest in leading significantly impacts the health of your group.  You are the greatest point of influence and direction in your group. This is most important in regard to change.  Change in your group begins with you.
  3. The most important thing you can do as a leader is care for yourself.  As the spiritual shepherd of your group, sometimes you are the sheep who needs the most attention.  Your personal spiritual journey sets the tone for the group.  You can’t lead where you haven’t been, and you can’t fill others when you are empty.  Sometimes the best thing you can do to influence others is tend to your own soul.   We each have seasons where this needs to be our greatest focus.
  4. There are 2 roles a leader plays:  A leader and manager.  Leaders focus on vision and direction, and managers focus on people and systems.  As a group leader, you must be both of these.  You will naturally gravitate toward one or the other, but it’s important that you keep your group pointed toward the goal and simultaneously care about people and keep your group time organized.

So, as we come to the end of part 1 I have a few questions for you to wrestle with on your own. 

  1. In light of the above, what is your biggest take away?
  2. How does this information encourage you as a leader?
  3. What is one change you would like to make in your leadership to make a greater impact on your group?

Thanks for reading. Next week we will talk about “winning” in your group time.