Monthly Archives: February 2013
Being a small group leader can be exhilarating. There is nothing greater in life than seeing someone grow in their walk with God. Watching the light bulb go off in a new believer’s head as they begin to understand what they’re reading for the first time will change your life.
Being a small group leader can also be exhausting. Sheep are hungry and they sometimes get a taste for shepherd’s blood. Have you ever felt like Moses did in Numbers 11?
10Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
I love what God does next. If I had been God, I would have gone all WWE on Moses, but He didn’t. He instead instructed Moses to divide up the responsibilities of the group so that he did not have to carry the burden alone. If you are a lone wolf leader, you are not going to make it very far. No matter how talented or gifted we are, we all need support. Leaders need other leaders to walk alongside them.
– If you are a small group leader, find another seasoned leader that you can lean into for a season.
– If you are a Groups Pastor, find a few other Groups Pastors in your area that help carry your burden occasionally.
Please do not let pride get in the way of a healthy, long ministry. We all think that we can do this thing on our own, but it will eventually drive us to the place where Moses was – asking God to go ahead and kill him.
I am a big believer in everything that we do should be thought through and analysed before and after. There is a tendency to think because we are dealing with community, it should be strictly organic. Relationships happen organically, so the ministry that organizes those should happen organically as well.
The problem is, without good systems and plans those relationships will never have the opportunity to form. The Second Law Of Thermodynamics is the inevitable disintegration of order into disorder. In other words, if something is left alone, it will eventually end up in chaos. That pretty much sums up a lot of small group systems.
Whenever I am designing a system or an event, I use a framework that I learned through working with Leadership Network – the 3 realities: What Was, What Is & What Will Be.
- What Was. This is where we can have a tendency to get stuck, but we have to spend some time here to get to the next stage. George Santayana said, ” Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. What is the foundation for what you are attempting to build? If we rush into a new system without considering what it is replacing, it will eventually fail. Spend some time in planning thinking about what has been done before, but don’t stay in this stage too long.
- What Is. This is your current reality. Take some time at this stage to do a SWOT analysis of your current systems and events. What is working and what is not? What should you stop doing and what should you start? Make sure that you have the lastest facts as you spend time in this stage. It is really difficult to analyse when you don’t know the current reality. Do some research and find out what the numbers are. It may be painful, but it’s necessary before you can move to the next reality.
- What Will Be. This is the fun part. Dream about what the possibilities are, and then set SMART goals for achieving them. I would suggest that you work in 6 month segments. Ministry changes too fast to have hard plans much beyond that. Goals become irrelevant when the playing field shifts. At the end of this process, determine the one goal that you have to achieve in the next 6 month or everything else will be a failure. In the military this is referred to as the Commanders Intent. A concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired end. How can the next 6 months be summed up and what is the desired final result?
Yesterday at Cross Point, we concluded the series “Pursued” that we have been in over the last 3 weeks. Justin Davis did an amazing job of talking about restoration vs. redemption. Redemption is God choosing us, while restoration is us consistently choosing God.
One of the points that Justin made was that we all have different pathways to experiencing the fullness of God in our lives. Some of us feel God best when we are worshipping with others on a Sunday morning. Others may see God when they are in nature or during a time of solitude. The point is, we are not all wired the same when it comes to discipleship. Not everyone in your group is going to grow the same way or at the same rate as everyone else. It’s up to us as small group leaders to gauge where our group is on their spiritual journeys and help them take their next steps to being fully devoted followers of Christ.
Here are five ways that can help:
- Create opportunities for them to tell their story during group.
I love how Starting Point makes this a part of the curriculum. You can learn a lot about where people are going by hearing about how they got to where they are.
- Have the group take a spiritual gifts test.
There are several good ones that are free on the internet. The book S.H.A.P.E. is also a great resource for people to find out what their spiritual gifts and passions are.
- Do a study like The Me I Want To Be by John Ortberg.
Follow that up with action steps for group members to take their next spiritual steps. Stay accountable to each other through regular check-ups during group times.
- Create mentoring relationships within the group.
I believe that discipleship is more effective life-on-life. Breaking the group up into smaller groups during the discussion is a great way to get this started.
- Serve together as a group.
Nothing produces spiritual fruit faster than serving in mission together. If you have ever served on a short-term missions trip, then you know how alive God can become in your life.
Before you can implement an effective groups system, you have to first define what a small group is. For each church, that may look a little different. Are you a complete Free Market system where any group of people gathered constitutes a small group? Does each group have to have certain elements in it to qualify as an official small group?
At Cross Point, we have decided that our community groups must consist of 3 things to be considered an official group that we support:
From the beginning of Cross Point, we have placed a high priority on authentic community. Our favorite saying is: “Everyone’s welcome, no one’s perfect and anything can happen“. The way that this is accomplished best is not in rows on Sunday, but in circles in homes, coffee houses and office buildings during the week. A portion of every group meeting should be dedicated to honest dialogue about life.
Groups that only do community might as well be a social club. Discipleship will only happen if there is time dedicated to studying God’s Word. We allow our groups to choose their own study, so this will look different from group-to-group. We have everything from Beth Moore groups to in depth Bible studies like The Gospel Project.
We ask each group to go beyond the 4 walls of the home to make an impact on the community around them. A group that is inward based can end up educated beyond their obedience. We believe that God called us to share the Gospel and not hoard it for ourselves. One of the ways that we help groups do this is through what we call Serving Saturdays. Once a quarter, our church turns out in mass to serve all of over the Nashville area. It’s an incredible picture of the Church being the hands and feet of Jesus.
I will freely admit from the top that I am an Apple fan. I currently own or have access to: an iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, MacBook and a lock of Steve Jobs hair. Ok, the last one is not true and kind of creepy…but you get the point. One of the things that I love about Apple is how simple their products are. They don’t try to do everything, but what they do, they do really, really well.
I had a chance last summer to spend some time with a prototype of the Microsoft Surface. I really liked the look and feel of it right away, but I then started using it and very quickly got completely lost because it had the capability to do everything. You could turn the thing into a full blown Windows computer if you wanted too. I just wanted to play Angry Birds.
We have the tendency to design our ministry systems like this. We try to offer as many options as possible and end up confusing people with a lot of second rate features.
- We offer training to our leaders that cover every single possibility and they end up completely overwhelmed.
- We try to cover every type of group that we can think of and end up with leaders that are not ready with groups that we don’t need.
- We build ministries that we can’t execute with excellence and drive off the people we are trying to reach.
- We start multi-campuses before we know how to build and sustain one campus.
The chances are, all of us have run into one of these. As an organization grows, the pressure to offer more and more also grows. Before starting that next ministry, group, training, etc. – try asking these questions:
Why are we doing it?
Is this really needed?
Can we do it with excellence?
Is it replicable?