healthy relationships

Be Rich 2017

Be Rich 2017

It's nearly Be Rich time once again! Our annual giving and serving campaign, launches November 5. As part of the campaign, we want to help you prepare to Serve Together with your small group.

Pursuing Reciprocal Relationships

Pursuing Reciprocal Relationships

One thing you can do to find community as a leader is to pursue reciprocal relationships. They require two ingredients: depth of relationship and frequency of interaction.

GroupLink: Leave Space for God

GroupLink: Leave Space for God

Please, don't end up in my group. Be honest. If you're a leader and you've been to GroupLink to start a new group or add members to an existing group, you've probably had that thought about someone. I know I have.

Asking Great Questions

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The New Testament records 183 questions that people asked Jesus. He gave a direct answer to three of those questions, but he asked 307 clarifying or redirecting questions in response. Our takeaway: One well-placed question is better than ten good answers. Asking great questions is a skill every leader should work on developing over time.

Why ask questions? Great questions meet people where they are in their faith journeys. Instead of just providing people with easy (and too often trite) answers, great questions help them to own their faith. Questions encourage people to think for themselves. That self-directed shift in thinking has a higher probability of influencing future behavior. In other words, it has a higher probability of helping people grow.

What makes a great question? Curiosity is the secret ingredient of great question-asking. A leader should be genuinely curious about what’s going on in the lives of his or her group members and what those group members have to say.

Great questions aren't judging. They don’t presume an answer. They’re asked in a spirit of learning. They build empathy.

What makes a great question asker? The most effective leaders are full of conversations, not answers. They're humble, satisfied with delayed credit (or no credit at all), generous, concerned with others, curious, and empathetic. Great leaders ask great questions and continually strive to be better at asking great questions.

I don't know about you, but I'm better at asking questions than I used to be but not as good as I want to be. Improving is hard work, but it's worth the effort.

Empathy Vs. Sympathy

When something is wrong, is your first instinct to say, "Well, at least . . ."? Check out this short video featuring author and research professor Brené Brown.

Using Renovate in Your Group

The question that leaders most frequently ask their Groups Directors is, "What should my group study next?" That's why we created the Resources section here at groupleaders.org. It contains all kinds of studies recommended by church staff and group leaders, categorized by topic, group type, length, format, and even the amount of homework required. But sometimes what you really need to know is how a particular resource will help your group, and when in the life-cycle of your group it's best to use it.

So, on Fridays we're going to post some resource recommendations that answer those kinds of questions. The purpose isn't to sell you anything. It's just to make you aware of what's out there and how specific resources may or may not meet the needs of your group.

Today, we'll take a look at Renovate. It's a great study if you and your group want to take a relatively deep dive into spiritual growth. Here's the rundown:

How long is it?

Renovate is eight sessions, so there's a time commitment involved. But it's worth the time.

How is it structured?

Video elements (to view during meetings) and written content make it easy lead. It's relatively plug-and-play, though you'll need to be ready to model the kind of transparency and openness the study demands.

Discussion questions tee up some great conversations, but there's also exercises to do inside and outside of group meetings. In other words, you can expect more homework than a typical study (but it's not overwhelming).

What is unique about Renovate?

Renovate deals with an often neglected aspect of spiritual growth: self-awareness and emotion intelligence. It's never easy to take an honest look at the areas where we have room to grow. The more open and transparent your group members are, the more everyone will get out of the experience.

When should we do it?

It's important that relationships already exist and trust has been established before you use this study. You probably don't want to dive into Renovate until your group has been together for at least six months if not a year.

Renovate isn't an easy study. In fact, it may rock your world. But it offers some phenomenal content that has the power to strip away obstacles standing in the way of your personal spiritual growth.

Take-Off: The First Four Months of Your Group

Take-Off: The First Four Months of Your Group

One of the most important things you can do as a group leader is to be intentional. That means leading your group toward a destination, and making sure that the things you do and your conversations have a purpose.

Remember Him . . . Together

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Have you ever thought it would be great if we celebrated communion more often? Communion can be a powerful time of worship, and itdoesn’t have to happen Sunday mornings or on a Night of Worship.

Your Community Group is a great place to celebrate what Jesus has done in all of your lives, and to remember the sacrifice he made on your behalf. As a tight-knit community of believers, you come together each week just like the gatherings that met in homes in the first-century church. Your meetings are times to connect, grow spiritually and relationally, and remember the depth and breadth of Jesus' love. Communion is a vital part of that remembering.

The apostle Paul wrote this in Ephesians 3:16–18:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

That's our prayer for you and your group. So, we’d love for you to be able to experience communion together on a more regular basis. In order to help you navigate that process, we’ve prepared this Celebrating Communion in Group resource. It tells you everything you need to have and everything you need to do to celebrate communion with your group members. It also answers some frequently asked questions about celebrating communion in a small group environment.

If you have questions or need further guidance, contact your Groups Director. He or she is happy to help.

5 Tips for Asking Great Questions

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Asking great questions is as much an art as it is a skill. But developing that question-asking muscle is essential for great leadership. Asking great questions is the most effective thing a leader can do to create conversational environments where people can experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth. Jesus did this better than anyone in history. In the Gospels, he's asked a ton of questions — everything from "Are you the Son of God?" to "Which is the greatest commandment in the law?" He rarely responds with an answer. Instead, he tends to ask questions that lead people to consider the truth, think about their own experiences, and reflect. Jesus understood that asking great questions helps people to process what they're thinking and feeling and to really own the answers they discover. Providing quick, simple answers doesn't usually do that.

When it comes to asking great questions, Jesus sets the bar high. You probably won't be as quick or insightful as he was (I'm not, that's for sure). But it's still a great idea to work on your question-asking skills, and to look to Christ for inspiration. You won't change overnight, but in time you'll find that your ability to ask better questions will create a better environment for your group members to grow.

Here are five simple, self-explanatory tips for asking great questions in group:

  1. Ask open-ended questions, not those that can be answered with a yes or no.
  2. Ask questions that evoke feelings, make people think, and lead to insights.
  3. Ask questions that have more than one right answer.
  4. Ask questions that encourage group members to share personal examples.
  5. Ask questions that stimulate group members to apply what they're learning.

Responding to questions by asking good follow-up questions engages everyone in the group. As you guide the conversation, make sure responses connect your questions to the topic you're discussing, pave the way for you and your group members to talk about your personal struggles, and encourage self-discovery by allowing people to arrive at their own conclusions with the help of the group discussion.

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

There's some good stuff in this video.

Leadership is all about creating an environment where other people can grow and thrive . . . even when doing so requires some sacrifice on the part of the leader.

As Mr. Sinek puts it, "If the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the [group]. When we feel safe inside the [group], we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities."