As Pastors and Point Leaders we want our groups to succeed. But what does success look like? How do you define it? Here are some tips for maintaining healthy small groups.
Stay focused on the vision
Make sure your leaders know and can recite the vision and values of the church and the small group ministry. All leaders must continually cast the vision on every level and share it often. Everyone must know where they are going. “Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.” Habakkuk 2:2 NLT
Define some basic principles that outline what it means to be a small group in your church. Start with an end in mind and develop clearly defined standards for your coaches and leaders. In my church, we have what we call, The 4 Essential Elements. They are; 1. Bible study 2. Serving & Outreach 3. Care & Accountability 4. Multiplication. Every leader knows these principles are non-negotiable and they are responsible for implementing them in their groups.
Get regular check-ups
Assess the spiritual health of your leaders, members, and the ministry as a whole. One of the greatest needs we have in the church is for God’s people to be in God’s word. How are your leaders doing in that area? Assess the spiritual health of your leaders/members often. Here are a couple of good assessment tools to get you started:
Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward Assessment by Randall Neighbour and Jim Egli
Spiritual Health Assessment and other tools from Steve Gladen
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he writes, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (v. 11-12 ESV)
Healthy leaders yield healthy groups. To ensure the health of your leaders and equip them with the tools they need to succeed. Know their spiritual health, their personal needs, and to pray for them. Find ways encourage, equip and energize! Build into them so they can build into others.
Practice one anothers
Small groups provide an avenue for people to really know one another, provide support, encouragement and to minister to one another. Groups who exercise these things on a regular basis create an environment for demonstrating the kind of love that Christ intended for His church. Group leaders should create a context in which group members can care for one another through the application of God’s word.
People are more committed when they are invested. Group members who are given the opportunity to take ownership of various roles within the group learn to serve others and glorify God in the process. One may be gifted in hospitality or teaching or prayer, another may have a passion for worship. Allow group members to use their gifts to serve the group.
Take a break
Everyone needs a break once in a while. While I am not a big proponent of semesters or taking summer breaks, I do believe in scaling back during busy seasons. Encourage groups to meet at least 3 out of four weeks per month. They may also implement a summer schedule by meeting every other week. Encourage groups to have fun together during the holidays and through the summer months by hosting picnics, potlucks or game nights.
When everyone knows and understands the vision and values, knows what is expected, has an active role in the group, and are afforded adequate rest, it cultivates a healthy environment for group members to glorify God by helping people to become more like Christ.