I remember the first time I was asked to run a small group. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. For the first year I felt as if I didn’t know what I was doing.
Maybe you feel the same way. Your pastor has asked you to run a group and you don’t know what you’re doing. Maybe as a pastor you’re struggling with the idea of simple steps to give your group leaders. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes.
Let me help you.
After struggling in one of my first groups, a friend of mine, Tony Hedrick said to me… The main thing is you have to keep the main thing the main thing.
For our small groups to be effective, we have to be simple in our approach. If we don’t, we’ll miss out on the opportunities we can have.
Here are five powerful things you must do in your small group for it to be effective and successful.
1. Know your content. You want people to not only come to your weekly meetings, but you want them to walk away with a simple truth they can apply. When I prepare for my small groups, I ask myself ”What is the quick win they can take away?”
If we don’t know what we’re teaching or our content, the people who we minister to will never grow during their tenure in our groups. They’ll walk away and you’re group will fizzle out.
A quick win allows them to walk away with one truth that they can apply. It doesn’t matter if we are using a sermon-based, video-based or book-based we want to pull one thing out that we can show.
It doesn’t take long to prepare. If it’s a sermon-based, you already have your notes from the message. I’ve learned to prepare my Small Group material in 60 minutes. (Maybe I’ll write about that someday.)
2. Keep it Tight. Sometimes we tend to allow our groups to go on and on and on. There really is never a clear end time, or start time.
I keep my group time to 90-minutes. If we don’t take the time to let those who come have a clear understanding of our time-frame, they’ll either arrive late or never leave.
I always use a simple template to run my small group.
- Set-up 30-minutes beforehand. Check all audio cables and DVD’s etc. Drinks and snacks set out.
- 4:00 pm – People arrive.
- 4:15 pm – Open in prayer
- 4:20 pm – Begin lesson and discussion
- 5:00 pm – Ask what people have learned – what one thing did they glean.
- 5:15 pm – Group prayer. Pray for requests
- 5:30 pm – End
When you have a clear beginning and end time to your small group people will respect that. But we must keep things tight and moving. If there is dead space, we’re not utilizing our time and we’re wasting theirs.
3. The Open Chair Policy. Some people look at me funny when I mention this. However, I believe this is instrumental and should be used in all small groups.
At every small group meeting, I place an empty chair in the room. This chair represents someone who is not apart of our group. This chair represents someone who needs to be in this group.
We take time to specifically pray that God would bring the right person into our group to fill that chair. The amazing thing, God fills the chair and the next week I place a new empty chair to pray over.
Our goal should be to pray consistently for those we don’t yet know.
4. Pray. This is the one thing every group must do. In the groups that I’ve run, prayer has been my go to. Prayer has been my staple.
Some people are afraid to pray out loud. They get scared. But, as leaders we can take the edge off by helping them pray.
Hand out prayer cards. Ask them to write down their requests. We pray over them in group and then we take each other’s cards home to pray for each other. Because when the people of God pray, God moves!
When the people of God pray, God moves!
– Jason Sisam
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5. Develop a Mission Statement. As leaders, our job is to lead. But how can we lead our groups if we don’t know where we’re headed?
I encourage small group leaders to develop a mission statement. This statement should coincide and agree with our church’s main mission statement.
At Life Church our mission is; ”Helping more people find true life in Jesus Christ.” In my small group, my mission statement is this; ”Helping my group draw near the heart of God.”
It’s simple. It isn’t long, but it tells me what I’m aiming for. If we aim at nothing, we’ll hit the mark every time.
We can have successful small groups. But it takes a leader to implement a clear path for the group participants to follow.
Are you up to the challenge?