Archives For Brett Eastman

Launching CommunityThree Steps to Making Your Small Group Dream Come True For Your Church

So many of us have been there—you wake up in the middle of the night feeling pulled toward starting a small group ministry at your church. But by morning you still have no clue how to go about it.

I’ll tell you this: If you’re a pastor wondering how to go about launching a small group ministry, start by asking yourself, “Is a small group ministry something I truly value and can excite others with?” This is crucial because values manifest themselves not in your belief system but in your behavior. If your hands and feet are not sitting somewhere where you are sharing, it will be difficult for you to have conviction about the ministry from the pulpit, in your Sunday school class or in your own small group.

Then you should ask yourself, “Do I really believe in doing life together?” Here’s what I mean by this: Pastors and teachers often have trouble understanding and appreciating the value of small group ministry because they are used to telling people what to do versus talking about what they should…

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Shaping Shepherds and SheepA friend who was in charge of our men’s ministry once said, “Some of these guys really don’t want me coaching them; they don’t want my help!”

“That’s all right,” I said, “If all these guys are living spiritually healthy lives, you can take it easy.”

“But some aren’t thriving spiritually,” he said. “They need encouragement.”

A coach’s primary goal is to help leaders become fully mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28 says, “We are to proclaim him, admonishing every man and woman, and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man or woman complete in Christ.” Jesus desires that we grow deeper in our walk with him so we’re prepared for the mission to which God has called us.

By mentoring small group leaders Shaping Shepherds and Sheeps and their groups, we participate in the process of presenting every man and woman complete in Christ. This happens by helping them cultivate their spiritual health—even when it’s an uphill battle.

The acronym MENTOR provides steps to help you guide your small group leaders to spiritual maturity.

Motivate them to find a spiritual partner. You might think you already are their spiritual…

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Honor Your Leaders!

By Brett Eastman

Honor Your LeadersHow publicly affirming your group leaders sets blessings in motion.

As a leadership coach, you have a crucial role in sustaining the small group structure of your church. Without this layer of your leadership, small groups stand on shaky ground for the simple reason that their leaders feel unsupported and therefore unwilling to take ownership of the group and its mission.

To keep this from happening, you need to let your group leaders know that they are most valued people in the life-change process of your church. You do this by honoring them and building them up—in front of the senior leadership of your church.

Rick Warren attended a conference at Saddleback Church with over a thousand small group leaders. He broke down in front of them all, telling them how much they all meant to him. He said, “I can see every one of you taking care of a group of ten kids or five guys in a coffee shop or a Celebrate Recovery 12-step group or whatever it is you do.”

By saying these words, Rick brought value and honor to each of them. Those leaders left that conference ready to…

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Five ways to help task-oriented groups thrive bubbles

Setting up task groups is a great way to develop a growing number of faithful volunteers in almost any area of ministry. A task group is distinct in that it isn’t just a traditional fellowship-building group or a team of people simply fulfilling a task. By definition, task groups attempt to accomplish both fellowship and ministry at the same time.

The principle mission of a task group is to set aside a 30-45-minute group time to develop the spiritual and relational life of each team member. People tend to join a group because of the task they want to work on, but ultimately they will stay because of the mutual caring among the group members. Being intentional about developing the sense of community through a designated group time strengthens and improves the overall health of the ministry.

Most of the principles used to develop effective traditional small groups can be transferred to working with task-oriented groups. However, several features will especially enhance the development of task groups:

  1. Encourage groups to meet before or after their serving time. No matter how frequent the serving opportunity (whether once per week…

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Take this assessment to see how your health measures up butterfly

If you want to have a healthy small group, it goes without saying that its members need to be healthy. So a good way to move yourself and your group toward well-being is by assessing each individual’s level of health. Once this is established, you can help one another set goals for growth and can encourage one another in the problem areas.

The following questions are geared toward helping you and your each member of a group go through this process. Each member should answer individually. Then the results can be discussed with the group.

1) How are you connecting with God’s family?

  1. What is the frequency of your interactions with other members in your group?
  2. How vulnerable are you in regards to sharing your real needs?
  3. What are some steps you can take to deepen these relationships?

2) How are you growing to be like Christ?

  1. When do you spend time studying the Bible and in prayer?
  2. Who do you talk to about what God is teaching you or ask questions about spiritual growth?
  3. What are a couple of things you can do to increase consistency in this area?

3) Where…

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As your group is in the midst of summer months it will be helpful to have a plan for connecting.  You’ve worked hard to get to know eachsunset other!  You’ve gotten to a point where you are beginning to form some great relationships that really will help you grow spiritually…as long as you stay connected!

The summer is always a challenging time for small groups.  With vacations and time away, camps for the kids, swimming parties and barbeques on the weekends, family reunions, and so many other great things to do, it is sometimes hard to fit your small group into the calendar!  In fact, is it even possible?  The answer is usually, “YES, AS LONG AS YOU PLAN AHEAD!”

So the question is, how can you keep your group growing together over the summer?  Here are some tips that many groups have found helpful:

 Top 10 Ideas for a Great Summer

1.   Make your plans now, before you get into the heat of the summer.

a. Pull out a calendar and compare vacation plans!  You may find several good meeting dates right in front of you!

b. Don’t be afraid to meet on a…

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Here’s a practical way to get your group to open up candles

The best thing you can do to encourage honesty in your group is to be honest yourself. This doesn’t mean spilling your guts about your darkest secrets. It means asking for prayer in an area of your life where you’re genuinely struggling; it means letting go of the myth that the leader needs to appear perfect; it means being genuine in your responses to the questions.

One way to develop group honesty is to have each member share four people, circumstances, events, or places that have left lasting impressions on them and made them the people they are today.

Ideally, give people ten minutes to figure out what they want to talk about and then five minutes apiece to share with the group.

If you have eight people in your group, that adds up to fifty minutes. Maybe you want to ask people to share just one person or event that has left a lasting impression on their lives. The goal is to develop honesty in your group and to help people open up about themselves.

If crunched by time, another option is to have people share…

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Don’t we all long to be a part of something fun, exciting, and life-giving? girls

The sitcom Friends captured this desire. Every week, 50 million people watched six actors pretend to have relationships with one another. Its popularity was fueled by the deep longing we all have to be connected in community.

The advertising world has caught on to this yearning as well. MCI promises to connect us with “friends and family.” The felt need is clear. But the real need is found in the biblical word, koinonia, which means “fellowship.”  God’s plan from the beginning was that each one of us would belong to a spiritual community, where we all would be known and we would know others.

How can we create a community like this? How can we connect with one another?

Here are seven principles to help you CONNECT with the people in your group and to help them connect with one another:

1. Create a “one-another” community. In the New Testament there are more than 50 different references to “one another”: love one another, bear one another’s burdens, pray for one another, serve one another. This can’t happen only on Sunday mornings; it needs to happen in other…

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Why your groups must step out of their boatsboat

You’ve seen them walk by. The “cooler than thou” group. The group that everyone in the church wants to be a part of and everyone outside of the church blames as the reason why they don’t come.

Most of us became aware of cliques in high school: the preps, the jocks, the high-achievers, and the rockers, to name a few. Ancient cliques included groups like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Hellenists, who condemned everyone and only enjoyed the company of each other.

We know how cruel kids can be, but we forget that church members and leaders can be just as cold-hearted and narrow-minded.

When our mindset is not one of multiplying people who disciple others and mentors, then we miss out on one of the most fundamental assets of the church: an individual’s capacity to minister to another individual. We know that not everyone is called to be a teacher or a leader, but every member is called to minister.

We’re reminded of this in 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that…

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When was the last time you watched a movie at home with your family and a few friends? Did you call the church office to decide whose house you would go to? Did you ask your pastor who to invite?

couch

Probably not!

If you are like most people, you just drove over to your local video store, checked out a movie, and called a friend or two. If that’s the case for most Christians, then why do we go to so much trouble signing people up to get into small groups and matching them with a small group leader?

Do we not trust them to invite the “right” people? To turn on a DVD or VCR? Or do our church attendees and members not have any friends, family, neighbors or co-workers they would like to hang out with for a few weeks studying a DVD-driven Bible study?

I realize this may be a new idea, but ironically it better follows Jesus’ model for forming his own small group community with the 12 disciples. First he spent time with a number of “Christ followers” getting to know them and discerning whether they would be the ones he “asked”…

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The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”  Matthew 9:37 (NIV)harvest

“I didn’t think I could do it.
But I found out I could.
It’s not as hard as you think.
You just have to have a willing heart.” – Anonymous

For those living fast-paced, high-pressured, demand-filled lives, the Church stands as an oasis. The church allows us to connect to God and to each other, and at the heart of this connection is the small group community — a circle of friends that help you live your life on purpose..

Small groups enable a large church to be personal, to be able to touch the lives of individuals through relationships. Key to the success of a small group is a host/leader. But how on earth do you ever get enough of them?

While I served as the small group champion on the Saddleback staff we witnessed an incredible outpouring of God’s Spirit on our church family. In just a matter of months we saw literally thousands of people get connected under the care of a small group leader. And yet 50 percent of church families were still not connected under the care of a…

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What you need to know to lead leaders            selfcoach

Without a guy named John I wouldn’t be where I am today.

He was my coach of the first small group I led. When my confidence was waning or I was tired of leading, he came alongside me and said, “I believe you can do it.” That meant the world to me.  Everybody loves hearing that they can make it.

He also repeatedly said, “I’ll help you.  I’ll walk alongside of you, and you can come to me when you have questions and concerns or need prayer and support.”

But when I left college, I no longer had John to coach me. Nobody came alongside of me.  It was kind of lonely.  Sometimes I got discouraged, lost focus, and wondered what it would be like to have someone champion me.

There’s a lot of resources for leaders.  And there’s a lot of helpful content for members.  But there is not much out there for leaders of leaders, who are left thinking, Who’s leading me to lead? and How do I lead? The acrostic COACH highlights the essentials for coaching leaders.

1. Cultivate spiritual…

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