Tuesday, February 28

If you could recommend one book on Small Groups

I received this question this past week and thought it would pose an interesting thought for the Blog: if you had to recommend one, and only one book for small group ministry, what would it be?

Well, I couldn't do it! I had to recommend three. My list will change as I continue to read, grow and learn, but these are the three I would recommend right now. Here is a copy of part of my reply to the email question:

I know you want me to recommend that ‘one’ book that will accomplish the most. Let me start this way:

If you are trying to get your leaders to buy in to the shift from being a church with small groups to being a church of small groups: “Creating Community”, Andy Stanley and Bill Willits, Multnomah, North Point Resources.
If you are looking for an over-arching resource that will put practical tools and ideas in their hands: “Small Group Ministry in the 21st Century”, encyclopedia of practical ideas, Group Publishing
If you are looking for something that will explain the nature of small groups and its role in biblical community: “Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction”, Heather Webb, Zondervan.


Monday, February 27

More from the C3 Conference...

O.K. Sorry for my brief departure from gupdate. Let's get back to posting more ideas from the Small Group ministry @ Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. If you are just joining the conversation you might want to look at a few earlier postings to get a sense of the "Home Team" ministry.

The small groups test drive. Fellowship believes that joining a small group is a huge step for people. To help folks get a taste of the small group experience without actually signing up for one, they offer "Fusion". Fusion is offered on campus, during the weekend services, with child care provided. Essentially what they are doing is trying to tempt people into signing up for a small group.

Fusion is a 4-week process. They have a 25% drop out rate after weeek one. After week 4 you are given the choice of forming a new group, join an existing group or dropping out all together.

What do you think? Pros and cons? Would this work in your church?

Disaster Relief Mobilization

Wesleyan Men and World Hope Interenational have recently partnered in Disaster Relief Mobilization. We met last week at the World Hope HQ in Alexandria, Virginia. Approximately 25 people received training from the Salvation Army Emergency Services. We also launched a new Disaster Relief training manual that will be used to train Wesleyans across North America.

If you are interested in having a trainer come to your church to prepare your people in disaster response email me @ guptillt@wesleyan.org

Thursday, February 16

Small Group Meeting Format

Over the years I have seen dozens of recommended meeting formats for small groups. The one that I'm most familiar with and have used the most is from the Willow Creek model in "Building Life Changing Small Groups". It has seven key elements that a healthy small group meeting incorporates.

Well, if you are looking for something simpler - here it is. The model from Fellowship Church's Home Teams only has three elements:
  • Social Time
  • Lesson Time
  • Prayer Time

What do your groups do? Do you recommend they follow a structure or check list? What do you think are the key elements to a healthy group experience?

Tuesday, February 7

The Breakdown - Defining Groups

Anyone involved in small group ministry will be challenged with, "how do we distinguish, define, or 'group' our groups. When I was at the Willow Creek Small Groups conference last fall they were talking about how they are moving to 'regional groups' and breaking them down to geographical units. If you live in neighborhood "X" then this is your group...

Here are the designations from Fellowship Church's Home Teams: Single, Married, Age, Location and then a few that are either men only or women only. They don't mix marrieds with singles, and they try to stick with age designations.

Great discussion on the last post. Thanks! Let's hear from a few of you - do you set parameters on who can go to which group? Do you have a free for all system? What are the pros and cons?

Wednesday, February 1

Home Teams Part 2

Small Groups structure. Frankly, this is something that I struggled with in the local church. How do you get all of your groups to buy in to the vision, mission and structure of your small group ministry? What do you do with renegade groups? What do you do with stubborn groups? What do you do with groups who were meeting "long before you came here, blah, blah, blah" and "we're not about to change now..."?

The model @ Fellowship is "this is our structure and if you don't fit or don't want to fit you will not be a part of our home team ministry". Structure allows you to have quality control. It also allows you to know WHO is leading the group, WHAT are they studying, WHEN do they meet, WHY do they meet, WHO attends, HOW do people join, WHERE is the group heading, and so on.

What do you think of structure? Do your groups resist it?