A pastor must be in a small group.
You need to show your congregation that small groups are so important for spiritual growth that even you belong to one. This allows you to share about your experiences, such as how being in a small group helped you during a difficult time or how the small group keeps you from becoming isolated as a pastor. I’ve been a part of a small group for a big part of my ministry.
In addition, require your staff and key lay leaders to be part of a small group. It will not only help them, but it will also show the congregation that becoming part of a small group is essential to Christian growth.
Being a host is not limited to leaders and teachers.
In fact, we started using the term HOST at Saddleback Church because many people do not think of themselves as leaders or teachers, and so they assume they are not qualified to facilitate a small group.
We stress that being a HOST simply requires four things:
- Have a heart for people
- Open up a place to meet
- Serve something to drink
- Turn on a DVD.
I used to ask if people could open up their homes but changed this to a place to meet because so many people today have their small groups at coffee houses, restaurants, or even in the park. Can you serve something to drink? In other words, we’re pointing out that hosting a small group only requires some basic hospitality? Can you Turn on a DVD? I even explain that, if the group is small enough, the host can use a laptop computer.
The point is, anyone can be a small group host: teenagers, senior adults, brand new believers. And be sure to tell your congregation that the host grows the most.
Start new groups with new people.
It is easier to start new groups with new people than it is to assimilate new people into existing groups. When new people come into an existing group, there’s always the feeling that they are behind everyone else or that they aren’t quite a full member.
Keep small groups small.
It doesn’t take a lot of people to start a small group. In fact, small groups are better when kept small, such as 6-8 people instead of 18-20. The Bible teaches that wherever two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, he will be there. So just two or three people can make a group.
Make hosts visible.
I suggest honoring small group hosts by having them stand during a service, then say, “Look around. Do you see any super saints? These hosts are just normal believers, but they are willing to serve. Being a small group host is not limited to super saints, pastors, or missionaries. Can you turn on a DVD and then, when it is time to ask the next question from the study guide, ask the question?”
Then, release the small group hosts early so they can go to the foyer, or patio, wherever you have set up to distribute the small group material. Allow the hosts to get the material first, but then say, “If you are willing to be a host, then you can go now to sign up”.
Kick off a spiritual growth campaign with a vision night.
If you’re recruiting small group hosts for a campaign, take the time to cast a vision for the spiritual growth of your congregation. Remind people, ‘This is where we’ve been, and this is where we’re going.’
You know that changing lives starts with the Bible, and the eight laws of spiritual growth are:
- Intentional: We make a commitment, and we are deliberate in the decision to grow.
- Incremental: We grow step-by-step.
- Personal: We all grow at different rates.
- Habitual: We grow by developing habits and being consistent.
- Relational: We grow in community.
- Multi-Dimensional: We grow by hearing, learning, speaking, and living the truth.
- Seasonal: We grow in seasons. A tree does not produce fruit in every season.
- Incarnational: We become more like Jesus.