Archives For Small Groups

A Small Group of Friends

September 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

darryl9 days remain in our very first contest. Check out the details HERE.

What would you call a gathering of a small group of friends to eat together, play music together, and just hang out with one another? What if you occasionally added another friend or two to the mix? And what if every so often you invited a chef from one of your favorite restaurants to teach you and your friends how to cook specialty items? Any ideas?

Well, for the past few years Darrel Hall, of Hall & Oates fame, has been doing just that with a show on the web he calls Live From Darryl’s House. My first recollection of John was watching him singing backup and playing rhythm/acoustic guitar on our High School stage during a “Battle of the Bands.” He was a few years ahead of me in school. During those days I was involved with several local High School garage bands. We even brought Iron Butterfly to the High School marching band drum line!

I played a block party for a local elementary school with a few friends under the name, Botany Bay Colony, the first in the line of 4-piece bands. It was amazing we got the gig at all! I sang lead and played bass lines on a borrowed semi-hollow body guitar. So they were the exact same notes as the lead guitar played, just the bottom 4 strings. The microphone I used was acquired using S&H Green Stamps!

I appreciate Darryl bringing the concept to the web. Years ago families would entertain and while away the hours by gathering around the piano or sitting on the front porch, guitar in hand, to sing the popular songs of the day. Darryl continues that fine tradition by welcoming friends, family and an occasional guest into his home – along with the viewing audience and the production crew – to share some food and some good music. The show has even spanned the gap from the web to cable TV! Way to go team.

It’s truly amazing to me what a small group of friends can accomplish when they come together for a reason and have a purpose behind them. There are several successful organizations out there, based on just that idea, who are having a huge impact on their portion of the world.

Why don’t you join them – or start your own?

What’s holding you back?

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Social MediaWould you believe the number of conferences, webinars, books and more talking about using Social Media for profit/fun/marketing/connecting/whatever? I must get 10 or more in my inbox each day plus those in FaceBook or Link’dIn or Twitter ads. And every one of them claims to be written by a Social Media “expert”!

This whole Social Media thing didn’t even exist 10 years ago and already we have experts? I understand what they’re saying – given the time we’ve been blogging or Tweeting or sharing ourselves with the world via some other means, they think they’ve figured out what it takes to win by using the media available to us today.

Ok, as long as we all understand the rules we’re playing by, I guess you can call yourself an expert because you’ve hit a certain milestone – so many “likes”, so many “click throughs”, number of units sold per visit, etc.

So how does all of this relate to your Small Group? You can harness the power of that technology to stay connected with the members of your group. You don’t have to list them on Yelp and post every time you get together or do something with them. But as long they are all ok with it, you can text them when something important happens, say Aunt Sally goes into the hospital, or someone’s Uncle Ned just passed away and the group would like to stay in touch.

Peri Gilbert offers some advice for using Social Media correctly. It’s a good read and worth your time. Peri has other articles available on the same site.

So how do you use various social media with your group?

What, Me Worry?

June 11, 2013 — Leave a comment

groups1Here’s a reprint of an email I received back in 2011. Read and share your thoughts.

A while back, a pastor shared with me that while he thought his church had a thriving small-group ministry, most of the leaders slowly fell away from the plan laid out for them—or slipped away from leadership altogether. A friend once told me she was shocked to find out one of her unmarried small-group leaders was pregnant. “I had no idea she was sleeping with her boyfriend. She seemed like such a strong Christian.”

A friend shared about a time when he found out the pastor of his church was addicted to pornography. It is a moment he’ll never forget. Time and time again, I’ve heard stories and read e-mails that all stem from the same serious issue: a lack of accountability for leaders.

This topic is a bit tricky to tackle. In his article “Establishing Boundaries” Paul Cedar points out “a leader’s accountability can be difficult to structure, as it sometimes opens him or her up to damaging criticism.” Plus, church leadership can be incredibly isolating, and leaders may feel they have no one to turn to for support. I’m glad our friends at BuildingChurchLeaders.com have created a resource to tackle this tough topic and provide guidance for leaders.

Accountability for Church Leaders includes great articles from Leadership Journal and respected authors on creating and keeping boundaries, finding time for accountability, and finding and developing accountability relationships. As we approach the New Year, this may be the perfect time to start (or restart) an accountability relationship or group. God has created us as people who need one another. As leaders, we have even more reason to seek out these incredibly important relationships.

So, what do you think? How do you keep leaders accountable?

small groups aprilOr, I thought we were a large church!

I was talking with a Small Group person the other day and we were discussing growing Small Groups and each other’s growing Small Group Ministry. We each serve churches of around 1,000+ members. And we were agreed that though our congregations are not small, by any stretch of the imagination, at the same time they are not truly mega-churches.

So there are some unique challenges in the Small Group ministry in a church of 1,000. So unique are these challenges that he and I developed a workshop around that subject and presented it a few years ago at a Small Groups conference in California.

Here’s a recollection of a few of the key points we brought out:

1)    Changes. Small Group Ministry (SGM) changes as the church size changes. Change is never easy. A smaller church is frequently more stable and more forgiving as you make adjustments (that don’t always work).

2)    Staffing. Most mid-size churches provide staff leadership for Small Group Ministry, but the staff is not large enough to dedicate another full-time position to the SGM. Usually the energies of the Small Group pastor are divided among multiple responsibilities.

3)    Leadership. Finding and developing the next group of Small Group leaders. A leadership “competition” can develop between staff members. There are only so many gifted and talented members to go around and fill the various ministry leadership functions.

4)    Communication. It’s hard to stay in touch with group leaders and coaches. You cannot count on an informal network as in a smaller church, yet your communications are not the well-organized machine you might find in larger churches. So you may need to simplify your messages; or find a volunteer who can help with your communications; or you may need to develop your leaders to operate on word-of-mouth distribution and then follow up to ensure that communication is getting through.

Small Group Ministry in a church of 1K presents unique challenges, but is well worth the effort! Just be aware of these challenges and face them head on. You’ll be glad you did.

What challenges are you facing in your SGM?

Part 9 in the series.

Some churches run their Small Group program year-round. Others schedule in breaks from time to time.

At Grace, one of our regular strategies is to ask our existing small groups to consider taking a small group vacation during church-wide campaigns and instead of meeting together, step out and help start new groups.

Some do, and new groups are formed. Some do not and simply add to their existing group.

What do you do?small group 325

small groups 315
Part 8 in the series.

We’ve talked about this before through this blog, but it’s always OK to revisit a topic. In fact, we revisit topics all the time here.

We’ve discussed why we do church-wide campaigns, but let’s revisit the top 5 reasons.

1)    The entire church is studying the same material. From the youngest children’s class to the oldest adult small group. Everyone is studying the same material for those same 6 weeks.

2)    The weekend services also are related to the material being studied in the homes.

3)    With so many studying the same thing, conversations around the dinner table, in the workplace, in the schools, etc. will also be discussing the material they have been studying. The ideas are reinforced by natural conversations.

4)    The topics for church-wide campaigns are carefully designed to appeal to the crowd. This allows people to invite their unchurched or not-churched friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors who may never go to a church service otherwise.

5)    New Small Groups are often started during these campaigns. Workplace groups, new home groups, school groups and more can easily be offered for the 6 weeks of the campaign. No long term commitment required!

There you have it: the top 5 reasons for rallying the entire church around a church-wide campaign.

What are some other great reasons to do a church-wide campaign? I’d love to hear from you.

small groupPart 7 in the series.

Continuing our look at Small Groups of Grace, we used to immediately connect each of their newest leaders with a coach who could help them through the beginning stages. We no longer have coaches in place.

We received push back from both our coaches and our small group leaders when we had the coaches in place. Coaches would often relate to me, “Who am I to try to offer advice to someone who has been leading a group for ____ number of years?” What they failed to understand is the fact that even pro golfers need a coach to help them fine tune their game.

Leaders would often say, “Who do they think they are, trying to tell me how to lead a small group?” And what they failed to grasp was that fact that we can all improve, if even in one area of our leadership.

So, currently we do not have coaches for our groups. We might try again in the future and come at it from a different angle, but for now our groups are functioning without coaches in place.

Do you use the coaching model? How did you implement that?

Or if you are not using a coaching model, what do you use to help your leaders grow and fine tune their leadership and ministry to their group?