Monthly Archives: May 2013
It’s the end of May, and for most churches that means that activity for groups are slowing down. I want to emphasize that they are not stopping, but just shifting gears for the busy summer months. This is a great opportunity for groups pastors/directors to spend some time working on the ministry, not just in it. We need these opportunities to shift, realign and refresh our systems.
Here is a list of 5 ideas and questions that you could start thinking about to prepare for the next season:
1. Lock in the theme for the fall alignment series
Start meeting with the Teaching Pastor now to see where God is leading him to take the church.
What can we creatively do with groups around that theme?
2. Refresh your leader’s training for new leaders in the fall semester
It may be time to revisit how you train your new leaders.
Has the culture shifted since you last built your training?
Are there more effective ways to deliver the information?
3. Build your curriculum choices for groups after the fall alignment series
Start thinking now about the next step for groups after the fall alignment series.
Where do you want groups to grow spiritually?
What is a natural transition from your alignment theme?
4. Ask current group leaders to identify 1-2 possible new leaders from their groups for the fall
Now is the time to start identifying the new leaders for the fall. Your best recruitment will come from existing leaders tapping people on the shoulder.
Who are your best leaders at raising up new leaders?
5. Identify and start recruiting new coaches
If you are planning on growing your groups (and I hope that you are), you are going to need coaches to help care for all of the newly recruited leaders. Now is the time to start having those coffees. Recruiting coaches takes time and patience.
Which current leaders are great at loving their group members?
Are there any former leaders who not currently leading a group but would be great at caring for other leaders?
One thing that we have almost perfected as a Church is over complicating things. If there is a hoop to jump through, we see if we can add 3 just to make it that much harder. I am not sure why this is true. Maybe it makes us feel better as leaders if only the fittest can make it through our systems. The home plate of our discipleship diamond is reserved only for the super spiritual (re: no lives).
Here are just a few of the requirements that we throw out for real discipleship:
- You have to take a class to learn how to be a disciple.
- You need to join an 8 week discipleship group that will meet outside of your inferior, normal group each week.
- Discipleship is only effective if it is done one-on-one. Sorry introverts – buddyup.
- We can’t define it, but we know it when we see it.
- Only after being discipled and apprenticing for a discipler, are you qualified to disciple.
I am not saying that any of those things are bad. But it’s when we start to put limits on how God can work in someone’s life that we miss the point. If we use the definition of a disciple that it is someone who is striving to follow and be more like Christ in every aspect of our their life, then discipleship can happen anywhere, anytime.
That impromptu conversation in the kitchen after the group meeting.
That dinner discussion with your kids about what you read in 1 John that morning.
During that serving opportunity with your small group.
On that short term missions trip to Honduras.
We miss the power of opportunities when we force God to work within our set boundaries. Jesus looked for ways to teach lessons through everyday life to his disciples. I think that’s the model of discipleship that we should follow.
This week, I decided to try out a circuit training class at the gym that I had not been to in a few months. The main reason that I quit going was that I wasn’t enjoying it because of the instructor. Every time I went, the instructor would spend half of time pointing out what I was doing wrong, and the other half yelling at the group to keep pushing harder. This may have been a great approach when I was 17 on my high-school basketball team, but not so much at 40 in the YMCA gym.
I had heard through the gym grapevine that there was a new instructor and I should give it another shot. It was a completely different experience. He would push us to work hard, but he kept saying, “This is your workout. Go at your own pace!” He would also offer alternative ways to do an exercise that the old people (me) could do. Instead of focusing on not being able keep up with everyone else, I was locked into having the best workout that I was capable of having. It was enjoyable and I will probably go again.
I think we do this when it comes to spiritual growth in the church. We expect everyone to be able to handle whatever we give them, and then criticize and demotivate when they can’t keep up.
Discipleship is not a “one size fits all”. It takes extra work to provide alternative routes for different kinds of people. Not everyone is ready for an 8 week study on the doctrine of anthropocentrism. They may need to spend 10 weeks in Starting Point first, learning about the incredible story of the Bible. Or maybe their first spiritual step is getting their finances under control through a Financial Peace group.
Always remember that this is their spiritual growth plan and they need to go at their own pace. If they enjoy it, they may actually come back and want to know what’s next.
We continued our series, 5 Lies That We Believe, yesterday at Cross Point by looking at the lies that we believe about prayer. Through my years as a small group member/leader/Pastor, I have found that prayer is one of the trickiest parts of group meetings.
The prayer time at the end of the meeting can be uncomfortable, rushed, long, or absent. If given enough time and creativity, it can also be rewarding.
I had a guy tell me after our first meeting one semester that he loved group, but he would never pray out loud during the prayer time. I assured him that it was ok, and that I would never force anyone to do anything that they did not feel comfortable doing. About a month into the semester, he pulled me to the side before group and asked if he could take on a request that night. He had been thinking about it all week and he was ready. I watched him take a HUGE spiritual step for him that most of us don’t even think about. Is praying out loud spiritual growth? For him it was.
I would encourage all group leaders to not treat prayer time at group as something you have to get through so everyone can get dessert. Change it up. Get creative. And as always, prayer for the group should not stop that night, but continue through the week.
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful for the prayer time at group meetings:
The first few meetings, the leader prays for all of the requests at the end of group.
If there are a lot of requests, have a general prayer and email the requests out to the group.
Divide up the requests with an apprentice or co-leader.
After the group is more comfortable, have the group members choose a request that they will pray for.
Write down the requests on separate cards and have the group break off into smaller groups to pray.
Keep a journal of the requests so group members can follow up during the week and at the next meeting.
Break up the prayer time through the meeting to focus on what you are talking about that night.
Focus the requests that night on immediate needs within the group.