Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Small Group 101: Growing Your Group
The last time I wrote about leading your own small group was back in August! Though, I've talked several times since what an incredible impact our group has made on us and some activities we've done together since then. Our group has totally changed our life over the last year. I can recall the first time I met every single one of the precious people in our group. Not every first meeting went perfectly smooth but they've all stuck around since and I'm so glad they did.
Last year we shared a wedding shower, a wedding, birthdays, a couple moving away, a couple moving closer, a couple beginning their home build process, a couple experiencing a miscarriage, some going back to school, some taking exams, some volunteering more, football watch parties, girls nights, guys nights, a Halloween party, a corn maze, a Christmas party, a thanksgiving/Operation Christmas Child party...and so so much more.
Growing the group has been something that has taken precious time and much prayer. Today, I am going to attempt to answer some questions recently submitted about growing your group.
Was there ever an awkward time where people didn't want to share more or go deeper than surface level?
Over the last year, our group has really learned to open up, be real with each other and develop friendships with one another, so much so that it's almost hard to remember a time before all of that. Truth be known, we had all those awkward moments before and sometimes still do have awkward moments. Heck, the first official time our group met, we had 1, yep ONE, couple show up. Talk about awkward, Kevin and I stumbled over ourselves constantly as we tried to re-arrange the group time to fit 4 people rather than 8.
But anyway, the trick to getting people to open up, is to open up yourself. Be truth-worthy yourself as a leader, or as someone in a group. People open up when they begin to trust you and those in the group. When you show you trust the group, and you model that trust, it invites others to do the same. There's bound to be awkward moments sometimes. It's okay to ask a discussion question and there be silence. That awkward silence is okay! Allow the silence.
How did your group build trust?
We take prayer requests and praises every week. Every week we emphasize what all choose to share is to be kept within the group. You can't force people to trust one another. That will simply take time. Like I mentioned above too, be trustworthy yourself as a leader and it will happen naturally. Our group is going on two years of being together and this year we finally reached that point. We had several new couples join us this year but each of them immediately felt welcome and noticed the trust that those who'd been around a year already shared.
How did your group grow?
I wish I knew exactly how to answer this question. The only real answer I can give here is God. The way this group grew, in numbers, this year blows my mind and completely humbles me.
A year and half ago, one of the pastors at our church stopped me and said,you know what your group is going to going to just grow like crazy. At the moment, I was studying and I thought he was nuts. Our group hadn't added one new couple since we began 6 months prior. I knew that I'd be studying for my NCIDQ exams and wouldn't be putting a lot of time into "advertising" our group at the church. Four months later, our group still hadn't grown. I didn't think much of it, but then the new year began and BOOM. From January through April our group added 4 new couples, 8 people.
I truly can't say how or what we did because honestly we did nothing. God did everything. God and those already in our group. All I can say is invest in the people God has already given you. Don't be concerned with the numbers, be concerned with the hearts. You're leading this group because the Lord has given you this position and He gave it to you to minister to His children. That should be your concern. Your group is bound to grow if you're ministering fully to those in it.
Have any other questions? I'm no expert. All I can give you is what I've experienced and any wisdom the Lord gives me. Don't be afraid to step out into a leadership role of a small group. It might be scary but it will most definitely be the best thing you could ever do.
Posted by Veronica Lee Burns
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