Archives For Small Groups

Strandlehold

You know that “your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley).” You know the well-worn path never arrives at a new destination. You even know Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.”

You know all these things. And at the same time…you’re hesitant to try a new strategy (or shut down an ineffective one). Why? You probably need to break free of a stranglehold with a death grip on your ministry.

6 Strangleholds with a Death Grip on Your Ministry

  1. The pursuit of problem-free. This delays more ministry than any other stranglehold. Remember, there are no problem-free strategies, systems or solutions. Every strategy, every system and every solution comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have. See also, The Pursuit of Problem Free.
  2. Indecision about the best way. Obviously, this stranglehold is related to #1. Still, it is motivated differently. If you find yourself stuck even after choosing the set of problems you’d rather have, you are probably dealing with indecision about the best way.
  3. Fear of failure. Perhaps…

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Important

There are a few things every small group needs to know.  Battle hardened veterans and wet-behind-the-ears alike, every small group leader needs to know these things.

10 things every small group leader needs to know

  1. Their senior pastor appreciates them.  This is a very, very important thing for a small group leader to know.  It ought to be communicated over and over again.  Senior pastors who understand this and act on it are able to build enduring armies of small group leaders.  See also, The Role of the Senior Pastor and 5 Ways Senior Pastors Can Affirm the Value of Small Group Leaders.
  2. Who cares for them.  Carl George expressed the truth of Exodus 18 this way: “Everyone needs to be cared for by someone but nobody can care for more than (about) ten.”  Every small group leader needs to know experientially that someone cares for them.  If all they know is that someone “is over them” organizationally, you cannot expect their members to feel cared for either.  See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #5: A Leadership Development Disconnect.
  3. They belong.  I believe this is an essential ingredient if you want to build a thriving small group ministry….

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SadnessSmall Groups can meet some of our basic emotional needs. Everyone needs to feel that they belong. This is a high value among Small Groups. The Bible teaches us, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5). We all want to be included by others. Our Small Group is the place where we’re always included. We belong.

We also need to feel accepted. Regardless of where we’ve come from or what we’ve done, Small Group is a place where we can come as we are to learn, to connect and to encourage each other. That doesn’t mean that our group will allow us to stay where we are. If there are things going on in our lives that are harmful or damaging to our well-being and our spiritual growth, then it’s the group’s place to address these things in our lives. Sometimes we are blind to things about ourselves that are very obvious to others. The group should…

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City on a Hill The Song ResourcesMegachurch pastor Kyle Idleman of Southeast Christian Church and City on a Hill Studio are on a mission to “Awaken Love” and reclaim the original vision of what God intended marriage to be through the national theatrical release of THE SONG film and accompanying resources.

“In our culture we are constantly hearing about love, sex, and marriage. These are the subjects of the songs we listen to, the books we read and the movies we watch. But the messages we have been receiving have left our love lives broken and cold,” said Idleman. “We want to awaken love in marriages and we look to what God has said about these important areas. After all he is the one who came up with the ideas of love, sex, and marriage; so he’s the one who knows what’s best. THE SONG film is a great date night movie that will point you to God who has the power to awaken love in your relationship.”

An integral part of the highly anticipated romantic drama THE SONG, which opens nationwide September 26, is a line of resources and curriculum based on Song of…

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What are the problems you face?  I’ve been at this a long time.  I’ve pretty much seen it all.  Here’s my list:

The 7 biggest problems facing small group pastors:

  1. A senior pastor who is reluctant or ineffective as small group champion.  This may be the most under-the-radar problem facing small group pastors.  After all, a significant number of senior pastors will tell you, “We hired a small group pastor to be the small group champion!”  Do you face that problem?  Does your small group pastor?  See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #1: A Doubtful and Conflicted Senior Pastor.
  2. The small group pastor position is too low on the org chart.  Building a thriving small group ministry depends on the right decisions being made at the right time.  When the most knowledgable and most passionate person is 2 or 3 rungs down from where decisions are made it is irresponsible to assume the best outcome.  Are you there?  Is your small group pastor?  See also, 5 Habits I’d Look for If I Was Hiring a Small Group Pastor.
  3. Equal status and promotion for every ministry and program.  When…

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GroupsThere are definitely ways that church-wide campaigns miss the mark and there are keys to avoiding a church-wide campaign disaster.  There are certain things you need to do to have a great church-wide campaign. See also, Top 10 Ways Church-Wide Campaigns Miss the Mark5 Keys to Avoiding a Church-Wide Campaign Disaster and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.

5 Dangerous Myths about Church-Wide Campaigns

There are certain myths about church-wide campaigns that set up bad expectations.  Hope and optimism are good things, but wishful thinking can set a congregation up for big disappointment right when they need a boost of encouragement.

People will believe anything and many believe that a church-wide campaign is…

  1. the solution for sagging attendance.  Can a campaign help reenergize a congregation and help inconsistent attendees become more consistent?  The short answer is yes, but only when the right groundwork has been laid.  The right campaign can encourage more consistent attendance when participants are challenged to make and keep commitments to “be here each Sunday and join a group that’s using the study that goes along with the message.”  Certain key ingredients make this commitment likely: a topic with broad appeal, a series…

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Words

Ever heard someone use a word or a phrase and there was something about the way they said it that made you realize…they didn’t know what it meant?  I remember when a friend of mine kept talking about the long tail (a business term) and ecosystem (or some other buzzword, I don’t remember) and it was so obvious to everyone else that he had no clue what either of the words actually meant!  To use a now ancient buzzword…it was emperor’s new clothes obvious.

Think there are buzzwords that we use and sometimes don’t actually know what they mean?  Or sometimes use in a way that is significantly different than everyone else?  I think there’s more than you might think!

Here are 10 of the most overused small group ministry buzzwords:

  1. Disciples who make disciples.  This actually might be the most overused small group ministry buzzword right now.  Not because it’s pretentious or anything.  Mostly because you’re probably not actually a disciple if you’re not making disciples.
  2. Spiritual formation.  If it isn’t complicated…it’s probably not legit.  I like what Dallas Willard said in Renovation of the Heart: “Spiritual formation…is the process by which the human spirit or will is given a…

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Gears

How do you know you have chosen the right small group system?  Can you know?  I think you probably can.

While there are at least half a dozen different small group systems, none of them areproblem-free.  Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.  See also, How to Choose a Small Group System or Model.

So…how do you know you have chosen the right small group system?

You know you have the right small group system when…

  • …its design is consistent with the business you are in.  For example, if you claim to be in the disciple-making business, your system must be designed to make disciple-making an ordinary and everyday outcome.  Pointing to the exceptions as evidence is not proof that you have the right system.  See also, If I Was Starting Today and The First Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer.
  • …what you’ve predetermined you will call “success” is actually happening on a regular basis.  If you’ve written down what you will call a win and it’s actually happening, then you’ve probably chosen the right small group system.  If what you’ve predetermined you will call success only happens on the whiteboard when you’re casting vision…

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Healthy Small GroupSaddleback Church might seem like a large church on Sunday, but what’s really amazing is that we’re actually larger when we’re smaller. We’re larger during the week. On a recent weekend at Saddleback, we had over 25,000 people gathering on our campuses in southern California for weekend worship services, but there were about 35,000 who met in small groups from Santa Monica to San Diego.

Our model for ministry isn’t found in the list of largest or fastest-growing churches on earth. Our model for ministry is actually the very first church in the Bible. In Acts 5:42 it says this “The first church met day after day in the temple courts and from house to house.” We come together on the weekends for a large group gathering of everyone in the congregation. And then we scatter all week long for small group gatherings from house to house.

This matters a great deal if you want to see lives transformed. On the weekends, people come together and experience God’s powerful presence, hear teaching from the pulpit, and serve others within the life of the church. But it’s during the week, in small groups, that…

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Shortcut

Ever had this happen?  You’re doing a repetitive task the same way you’ve been doing it for years and then someone sees what you’re doing and tells you an easier way.

Or how about this, you’re driving somewhere you’ve been a million times and someone in the backseat says, “Did you know that there’s a much faster way?”

It’s kind of like that in small group ministry, you know.  There are definitely secrets and shortcuts that will get you where you want to go faster and more effectively.

Here are 5 small group ministry secrets and shortcuts:

  1. There are no problem-free small group systems, models or strategies.  This may not seem like a shortcut, but believe me, the pursuit of problem-free delays more ministry than anything else.  Wise leaders recognize that there is no problem-free and simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.  See also, The Pursuit of Problem Free.
  2. If you’re having problems recruiting enough leaders, you’re using the wrong strategy.  If you’re still signing up leader candidates to attend the upcoming leader training course, you are overlooking the elephant in the room.  A significant percentage of leader training sign-ups (in a system where members are…

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Small Groups

Yesterday I asked the question, “What have you designed your groups to make?”  Answering my own question, I said, “Our small groups are designed to make followers of Jesus.”  And I must admit that my answer begs the question, “what kind of group will make disciples or followers of Jesus?”  See also, What Have You Designed Your Groups to Make?

What kind of group will make disciples…or followers of Jesus?

We could also ask, “What would have to be true about a group for it to make followers of Jesus?”

Good questions…don’t you think?

I’m sure there are more than these 5, but I don’t believe you can actually make followers of Jesus without these.  See what you think.

5 essential ingredients of groups that make followers of Jesus:

  1. The presence of a person who can say, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”  How far ahead must they be?  A step or two.  Note: This person (or these people) may not need to be the leader of the group.  See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader and Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.
  2. A curriculum focused on learning…

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Romans 8Take a journey together with your small group to greater faith! If you’ve ever had feelings like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m never going to change,” or “Life is too hard,” Romans eight is the chapter for you! Pastor Tom Holladay taught this video series beginning at the bottom and moving to the top of Saddleback Mountain through each of the four sessions to help us see clearly the journey from doubt to faith—from discouragement to hope—that God has for us.

Sessions Include:

Session 1: No Condemnation!
Session 2: No Frustration!
Session 3: No Desperation!
Session 4: No Separation!

Great Chapters of the Bible is a video-based small group series that will take your group in a verse by verse study through some of the most life changing truths in God’s Word.

Each chapter of the Bible is great because God wrote it all. But there are certain chapters that speak to our hearts and minds in an especially deep way. So each volume in this series goes deep into one chapter to draw out the life change that awaits us in these great passages.

Learn More or Purchase the…

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