I learnt today that one of my son’s favourite actors Christian Bale (aka Batman!) will play the lead role in an upcoming biopic based on the life of Dick Cheney. The film does not yet have a title or release date but I am very keen to see how Bale, who apparently is unrecognisable, (as himself!) undertakes the role.
What has this to do with small groups you ask!
Well …… I recently read a Dick Cheney quote, “in terms of asking questions, I plead guilty. I ask a h*%#l of a lot of questions. That’s my job.”
Mr Cheney sees it as an important part of his job to ask questions, likewise asking questions is also an integral part of our role as small group point people. While there are any number of questions we could and should ask, for the sake of this article I would like to suggest four.
1. How will the small group ministry help fulfil my church’s mission?
Small group ministry is a vehicle through which your church can fulfil its overall vision and mission. Think about your church’s mission statement, I guarantee it says something about reaching out to others and building or growing disciples. It may have other impressive words and catch phrases but underneath will be these two directives.
Isn’t that what we want to do with small groups? Your small group ministry does not need another slogan or snazzy wording – what it needs is to plan and execute alignment with your churches ‘big picture’.
Possible action step – write down your churches mission statement, put it somewhere you will see it constantly. Take time to brainstorm with your leaders how it is being fulfilled through small groups and any changes which might need to take place.
2. What is your ‘end in mind’?
What does it look like to you for small groups to be a success? A growing number of groups (yes) a growing number of leaders (yes). Small groups being seen as a core to your church’s culture (yes)……BUT is there more? YES.
Over the years I have come to realise that the most important end in mind is individual lives being transformed. Our small group ministry is successful when we see followers of Jesus being encouraged in their small group to take the ‘next step’ (different for each person) in their relationship with God.
Possible action step – Take a quiet moment to sit before God and ask Him what His ‘end in mind’ is for your small group ministry. Write down your thoughts feelings and responses. At the right moment share them with your leadership team
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3. What will a small group leader look like?
I began my small group ministry with enthusiasm for set, formal training of leaders before they embarked on leading a group. However, I have changed my mind over the years and I now am far less focused on initial training of leaders and more intent on developing ‘on-going’ connection for leaders. Whether this be through a formal ‘coach’ system or through peer mentoring.
When I reflect on Jesus’ model, he sent his disciples out before they were fully equipped, they didn’t have all the answers, in fact it could be said they had very little idea about what they were doing. He sent them out in twos for support, he debriefed with them when they came back, that was about it!
Possible action step – List the current requirements for small group leadership in your context. What is working, what needs tweaking? Seek Gods direction.
4. How will I build a small group ministry system and structure?
In my experience, this is a question that is often missing. Small groups are set up and do well for a season, then wane and left on the ‘back burner’ to simmer along by themselves. What is needed is a long-term plan and system to channel people toward groups consistently.
To make small groups an ongoing priority and part of the ‘dna’ of your congregation a system and structure needs to be thought through and developed. Take a moment to consider your ‘new comers’ ministry, what steps are in place to connect this ministry to small group ministry. Or if you run Alpha, (a fantastic course!) what system is in place to help people continue in a small group once the course has finished? Could all ministry areas work together to offer all people simple steps and pathways toward a small group where they could journey in faith with others? What would that look like?
Possible action step – Do some research into how other churches structure their small group ministry and provide pathways across other ministry areas.
I would love to hear how you go ‘tangling’ with these pivotal questions.
SGN Country Leaders – Australia & SGN Huddle Leader – Melbourne