Over the years, I’ve used Story Cards in three or four small groups, at work, with family, and in Starting Point groups. And they’ve worked 100 percent of the time.
In Circle Up, we've tried to incorporate all of the things we've learned about group life in the last five years.
Begin painting a new picture of what sharing your faith looks like. You are God’s great plan to reach the people around you.
From spiritual practices and the books of the Bible to career challenges and establishing guardrails, there are a variety of studies that are just a click away.
Don't forget to connect socially with your group and have some fun. To help you out, we've created this Christmas Would You Rather? icebreaker game.
Is your group coming to an end in the next few months? If so, it's time to start planning to end well. It may feel like you have plenty of time, but you don't.
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?
Are you currently asking, “What should my group study next?” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but check out groupresources.org by clicking the Resources link at the top of this page. But how do you actually choose what's right for your group?
Visit groupleaders.org/startingwell. It has a ton of stuff to help you lead your group through Community: Starting Well In Your Small Group
Everything has a starting point — your life, your relationships, your education, your career. Sometimes we forget that faith has a starting point as well. Starting Point is an 8-session small group conversation about faith. Whether you’re new to faith, curious about God, or coming back to church after some time away, it’s a place where your opinions and beliefs are valued and no question is off limits. You may know Starting Point as an environment we've created to help people connect with their heavenly Father. What you may not know is that you can lead your Community Group through Starting Point too.
Starting Point is a great option regardless of the makeup of your group or where you are in your group's life-cycle. Whether your group has new believers, non-believers, longtime believers, or a mix of all three, this resource will help you connect with God in new ways and have deeper conversations about the spiritual assumptions we all make.
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.
Summer is almost here again. We're all looking forward to warmer weather, but let's face it, leading a small group during the summertime can be tough. People are distracted by vacations, holidays, summer sports, and kids free from school. Besides, the summer months just feel less structured to most of us — children and adults alike — so it's harder to motivate people to focus on group. Over the past couple years, we've written some posts to help you make the most of the summer months. They're intended to guide you in finding a workable rhythm for your group, so the people you lead can continue to connect and grow without you having to feel like you're herding cats.
I've gathered those posts here for easy reference. Check them out.
Our hope is that Community helps to launch a year or two of amazing growth in the life of your group.
If you lead a Married Community Group, the men and women in your group may have different experience. Men can find it challenging to be real and authentic in a group environment.
So, what do you do to help cultivate relationships in the group?
One approach is to split husbands and wives during group meetings for a few weeks. This will help the men to connect more closely with one another, and the women to do the same. As always, try to limit the studies to six weeks. Find a study that's even shorter than that, if you can. While there are benefits to splitting the group, you don't want to keep it split for too long.
Here are some approaches you can take.
Do the same study. If you pick a study that interests both the men and women in the group, you'll find that the men will bond with each other, the women will bond with each other, and the relationships between spouses will benefit as well.
- Everybody's Normal Until You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg
- Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley
- Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs (we recommend limiting this study to three weeks)
Do paired studies. Sometimes authors develop paired curricula—one designed for men and the other for women. They typically focus on the topic of marriage.
- For Men Only and For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
- Every Man's Battle and Every Woman's Battle by Stephen Arterburn
Do different studies. Splitting men and women can provide a unique opportunity for each group to cover a topic that may not be relevant for or interesting to the other.
- When Work and Family Collide (men) by Andy Stanley
- The Purity Principle (men) by Randy Alcorn
- Lies Women Believe (women) by Nancy DeMoss
- Calm My Anxious Heart (women) Linda Dillow
Splitting your group by men and women may feel a little odd at first. You may even get some pushback from group members. But you're only splitting for a short time and the potential benefits are huge.
Have you ever split men and women in your group? What did you study? How did it go?