Everything ends eventually, even groups. You can either stumble into the end of your group or you can plan for it from the beginning.
Why did we create a new study? What's different? Here are three key differences between Community and Circle Up.
If your group isn't living jaw-dropping stories of amazing life-change, that's okay. In fact, it's normal.
You’ve volunteered to lead your small group and now you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. Am I right? Hang on . . . we’ve got you covered.
If spiritual growth is like a journey, then in order to get where you want to go, you need to know where you currently are.
How often do we use words or phrases in our groups that not everyone understands? It's especially important to watch out for this kind of thing when new believers or non-believers are in your circle.
If you're intentional about it, December can be one of the best times of the year to build relationships in your group.
We all understand truth. We all understand grace. But most of us do a mediocre job of managing the tension between the two.
As you lead, make sure you stay connected with your heavenly Father. Don't let the busyness that comes with leadership push him to the periphery.
A common concern among group leaders is that prayer time at the end of group meeting can feel shallow, stale, or awkward.
For most groups, it's not too early to begin sharing responsibilities during the four-week starter period. Doing so is a great way to give your group members a sense of ownership of the group.
As leaders, you have the opportunity to set up new groups with leaders—equipped leaders, ready to step into leadership. We call this replacing yourself and it's part of our multiplication strategy.
Picking your next study can be a little daunting because of all of the options out there. But we want to challenge you to be proactive. Don't just think in terms of topic or format. Think in terms of what your group members might need to take a next step in their relationship with Jesus.
As you wrap up the Starter Study with your new group, you may wonder, What in the world are we going to study next?
Helping a group member connect with a source of deeper care requires empathy, understanding, and patience.
The ability to ask good questions is key for any leader. Unfortunately, it doesn't come naturally for most of us. It's a skill we have to develop over time.
All groups have a natural life cycle. It's up to a group's leader to work with group members to make a plan for finishing strong and, ideally, launching new groups out of the group that is ending.
Intentionality is a key ingredient of great leadership. That means leading your group toward a destination, and making sure your conversations have a purpose.
In my previous post, I wrote about how to be intentional as you begin a new group. But the middle months of your group—the longest part of the life-cycle for most groups—are when it's easiest to slip into auto-pilot. It's natural to drift into a place where the group has little purpose beyond your weekly meetings and whatever you're currently studying.
Here are three things you can do to keep your group on track:
1. Keep Vision Central Vision leaks if you don't take action to keep it out in front of your group.
- Remind your group why we do what we do.
- Model vision by being committed and authentic, and by prioritizing relationships.
2. Avoid Routine While a group should have a measure of predictability, it shouldn't be boring.
- Share responsibilities with group members and leadership with an apprentice.
- Plan interruptions to the normal rhythm of your group meetings by organizing socials, retreats, and service projects.
3. Plan to End Strategically All groups will end, but no group will end strategically without a plan.
- As you assess who may make a great future leader, pay attention to your members' character, competence, and chemistry.
- Be intentional in the way you invite group members into leadership. Gauge their willingness. Encourage them.
If you do those three things, your group will be energized with a sense of purpose. Individual meetings and studies will take on great meaning and depth because your group members will know that the group is working to create community for others in the future.
Next week, I’ll look at some how to approach leadership during the final months of a 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.
The Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s window is always an interesting time in the life of your small group. It rarely makes sense to start a new curriculum after mid-November, because you’re unlikely to finish it before your group breaks for Christmas. But you don’t want your group to limp into the end of the year. If you're intentional about it, December can actually be one of the best times of the year to build your group’s sense of community and and purpose. Here are four ideas for finishing the year well: Serve together. There is no time of the year that people are more inclined to serve those in need than around the holidays. Whether you adopt a family for Christmas, leverage a Be Rich service opportunity, or create your own service project, look for an opportunity to serve together. Serving together is a bonding experience that creates lasting memories, and it also provides you with an opportunity to focus on your Influence with Outsiders.
Be social. We say “Merry” Christmas and “Happy” Holidays for a reason. Whether you go catch a Christmas concert together, host an Ugly Sweater Party, or go ice skating at the park, December is a great time to have fun together.
Share communion. Christmas is a time for tradition and remembrance. There is perhaps no older tradition within the body of Christ than sharing communion together—and this is something you can do with your group. Don’t worry, we have suggestions on how to lead through this.
Look back and celebrate. As the year comes to a close, take a night to reflect back together on what God has done in the lives of your group members over the past year. Pro tip: as the group leader, you might want to come with some ready examples for each person/couple, already in your pocket. What prayers have you seen answered? What steps have you seen people take? What life change have you witnessed?
Get creative. Maybe combine two ideas to make one special night. But whether you’re wrapping up your first semester together, or winding down the end of your group’s life cycle, but don’t miss the opportunity to close out the year on a high note!