Thursday, August 21, 2014

Small Group 101: What to do during group time

Helping one of the couples move into their new home

I can't believe the last time I posted for this series was back in March. whoops!

I decided to start this series because the Lord has done amazing things in our small group and I can't keep it back. It's ridiculous, now, that before I was so afraid to lead a small group and so uninterested in being a leader for one. I want these posts to be encouragement for you to have the ability to step out and lead a group yourself, should that be what God has requested of you.

So for today I thought I'd discuss about what our group time looks like. What actually happens when you meet?


Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11


First, I have to do a little rewind. Our group, the way it has been organized, and the way it functions is/was greatly inspired by the groups we, Kevin and I, had been apart of prior to leading our own. 

Our group meets every other Fridays at 8pm. So at 8pm the couples start arriving at our host's home, one of the couples in our group hosts group while Kevin and I  lead. We talk for a bit as we wait everyone's arrival and then we open with a game. Yes, a game. Starting with a game has allowed newcomers to slowly get a feel for us in a fun way. Plus, it's a great way for us as a group to re-connect after a week apart and share some laughter together. The Lord loves when we laugh, it's a fact. 

The games we play range from quick board games to card games and even hangman. Currently our favorite is Ellen's game HeadsUp which is played on the ipad/smart phone. Based on feedback from our group, they love the game part. We've had some rather serious games of spoons and one of the ladies has been remembered for rolling on the floor in laughter after her husband took his turn at HeadsUp. We love the time to casually walk into our evening together.

After our game we transition into Bible study time. We'll talk about what we learned last week and anything people particularly remember, briefly. At this point we jump into our study. This has looked different depending upon the study we've chosen to do. Currrently, we are doing a video study with  Matt Chandler (he pastors The Village Church in Dallas, if you live there check it out!). So at this point we pop in the video and press play.


Post video, is time for discussion. The series we are currently doing comes with a wonderful guide of questions to follow but we always start off asking the group is anything stuck out to them or made them curious, etc. The biggest key in discussion time is allowing there to be silence. That was hard for me and still is. That "awkward" silence is okay. Let it be. People are thinking and considering what they've learned and what they want to share, and it's okay to have some quiet time to allow that. With each question, be mindful of this. Over time you figure out when a silent time is due to thinking or the result of the discussion being irrelevant or the topic is done. 

Another key in discussion time, be patient with yourself, you don't have to answer all the questions because you're the "leader."  Allow your group to converse naturally. Yes, this will take time, especially if your group is new and no one really knows each other. People take time warming up to one another.

Another key for discussion, don't be afraid to sway away from the list of questions you have. Sometimes your group will discuss a single question for a long time and it might lead into another topic, that's okay. Allow the discussion time to flow naturally. For you type A people, yes this is hard. Sometimes you'll go through all the questions, sometimes you'll only get through one of the questions, and sometimes you'll decide to skip specific questions. You have to gauge how the discussion is flowing and sometimes that means taking a back seat. 

And my final key for discussion, allow the Lord to work. All of what I said above is basically centered around be mindful of the Lord working through hearts. Be attentive to His presence. This time is for Him to teach you, to teach your members, it's HIS time not yours. It's HIS agenda, not yours. 


As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17


"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them."
Matthew 18:20


After walking through the questions, we take prayer request and praises. We've lately been making an effort to remind everyone to share praises as much as requests, that's just something we've been working on. I like to write it all down in a notebook. Kevin likes to type it out on the ipad. However you like to do it, keep record of the prayer requests/praises. It's a sweet thing to get to go back and see where the Lord has worked, plus it allows you to remember how to pray for people specifically during the week. 

Then, simply enough, we pray through the requests/praises. Sometimes I pray, sometimes Kevin prays. It usually depends who has asked the questions during the discussion time. Just lately, since we've begun to feel our group has grown much more comfortable with each other over the past year, we've asked if anyone else wants to lead the prayer.

After prayer time, our group tends to talk for a while and slowly end our time together. Thankfully our hosts don't mind us stalling in their home until we finally decide it's time to leave. And yes, you read this group starts at 8pm, we usually finish around 10 or so and people have hung around until 10:30 or so before.

And that's it! You, as the "leader," do lead the evening but mostly it's run by your group members. 

Chat
Game
Study
Discuss
Pray
Chat

That's our group time routine, simple and fun and easy.


Kevin and I have only been doing this for a year and a half, we are certainly not experts. We have a ton to learn and find we are constantly adjusting ourselves to be better leaders! 

What do your group times look like, whether you lead or just participate? I always enjoy hearing how other groups are organized.



Past posts on leading a small group:
How to balance leading a small group with everything else going on in life.
Being intentional with prayer in your small group.
The basics of leading a small group.
How we became leaders of a small group.
Our small group serving each other.



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4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. One of my resolutions for this year was to get a little closer to God. My church is very small (maybe 20 regulars on a Sunday) & mostly older. I'm probably the youngest who attends so we don't offer small groups but I have friends who participate in theirs at larger churches and I was always interested in how/what it was exactly. We had a Bible Study for a period of time prior to our pastor leaving (currently in transition) and he was wonderful and often asked me to lead but I was scared. I'm not really sure of what but I've always regretted that. My MIL once told me that if someone asks you to lead a prayer just think of it this way - You're turning down God by saying no and do you really want to do that? Nobody will judge you, we are all here for the same reason because He gave us life. I wish she would have told me that a little earlier but it sticks with me.

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  2. I enjoyed this post! My husband and I are actually going to a community event at a church this weekend to connect and join a married couples small group. We have been wanting to do to this for sometime...we are both nervous and excited. We are desperately wanting to feel a sense of community in our city and connect with other young marrieds. This post made me excited!!

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  3. Girl, I am so proud of you!!! You and Kevin have really stepped up to the plate and are doing what God has called you to do. I am sure you are blessing your group in more ways than you could imagine!! Our sunday school group does not really meet during the week but I would love to do a bible study like this. Not sure how I would feel about leading it (especially since I am the baby of the group) but if I did I would be coming to you for help, haha! I love this series (and you!!)

    XO Samantha

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  4. p.s. I never replied to your question but I definitely think you should get disqus!! Its amazing :)

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