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Showing posts with label Small_Groups. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small_Groups. Show all posts

How To Create Shallow Small Groups In Your Church

Shallow Small Group
These videos are a classic and been around for a few years, yet after watching them again I think that they are still very relevant and make a salient point - that too many of our small groups are simply shallow - they aren't intentionally helping to make and equip disciples of Jesus Christ.

The best small groups that I have discovered for my walk with Christ have revolved more around serving together than meeting around onion dip and chips in someone's living room.

How do you experience small groups? Has it been frustrating or rewarding?

Video #1

Video #2 

5 Common Mistakes Of New Small Group Pastors

great advice and insight from Mark Howell

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes of a rookie small group pastors:

1. Trying to take care of too many small group leaders. This is a very common mistake and reflects a lack of understanding of span of care. Caring for too many can only do two things: burn out the caregiver or provide inadequate and watered down care.

2. Propping up existing groups instead of starting new groups.
It happens to all of us and if we let it, it will happen over and over. ”We are down to three couples…if you could send us a couple more it would be helpful.” This is a losing proposition. Far better to prioritize new groups and teach existing group leaders how to be on the lookout for new members.

3. Not saying “no” to unfit “leaders.” Although unfit can cover a lot of ground, the version that catches many rookie small group pastors are the people who want to be a leader but couldn’t build their own group if their life depended on it. They need to be given 10 members and then don’t have what’s necessary to hold the group together. Learning to say “no” often begins with learning to ask, “Do you already have a few people you can invite?” Seasoned small group pastors learn to be wary of the “leaders” who can’t build their own group.

4. Allowing their senior pastor to delegate the small group champion role. This mistake has deadly implications. It’s never good when the most influential person in the congregation (the senior pastor) delegates the champion role to the small group pastor. Rookie small group pastors often have a very hard time helping their senior pastor see the opportunity that exists when the champion role is played by the right person.

5. Missing the opportunity to partner with their senior pastor. Related to mistake #4, there is a tremendous opportunity for impact when a small group pastor learns how to help the senior pastor champion small group ministry.

Here’s an important note. All of us make these mistakes at one time or another. The key is to learn from our mistakes and not make them again!

The Illusion That Small Groups Project

from Brian Jones:

A few years ago I brought in a nationally recognized pastor to do some consulting for our church. One of the things I remember the most about my time with him was a side conversation we had about small groups.

“I haven’t really figured out the small group thing,” I confessed to him.

“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work.

Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples.

The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.”

What do you think? Are small groups creating merely the illusion of making disciples? Have small groups worked in making disciples in your church? If so, please share in the comments section.

Top 5 Ways To Kill Your Bible Study Group

Here are several things you might find yourself doing that will unintentionally shrink or even kill your group:

  1. Prepare your Bible study late in the week. You’re a busy guy, and you’ve learned to put your lesson together on Saturday. You did it once in an emergency, but hey, no one in the group complained about your “Saturday night special,” so you’ve learned to procrastinate and “study” for an hour or two on Saturdays. Your people are starting to recognize the fact that the lessons aren’t as good as they should be, but for now, they’re hanging in there with you. But not for much longer… 
  2. Don’t follow up on the guests who come to your Bible study. After all, don’t those folks know that you’re glad they stopped by for the Bible study? Actually, they may not, so be sure to quickly follow up with each guest, telling them that you are thankful they attended the Bible study. Don’t hesitate to invite them back for the next session, either. 
  3. Arrive late. Arriving late signals that something else is more important than the Bible study group. You wouldn’t arrive late for work, a doctor’s appointment, or dinner with a business client. Remember the general rule: “Early is on time; on time is late.” Arrive early so that you can check the room arrangement, set out any supplies you’ve brought, and mentally prepare for the arrival of your group members. 
  4. Teach whatever you like. You believe in living out the last line of the book of Judges as a Bible study leader: “And they did whatever was right in their own sight.” You just love floating from topic to topic – the ones you pick to teach about. But you’re killing your group members who don’t share the same love for the end times…or spiritual gifts…or the book of Romans. To remedy this, try using a Bible study curriculum from a trusted curriculum provider that balances the topics of study over time. 
  5. Forget about having regular fellowships. It may surprise you to know, Bible study guru, that many people who attend your group aren’t coming because of your command of Scripture. People often attend so they can build relationships and connect with other people, so an almost sure-fire way for you to shrink your group is to not have regular fellowships where people can get to know one another at a deeper level. If you want to shrink your group, just keep on teaching verse-by-verse, parsing sentences, and focusing on the minutia. 

(ht: ken braddy)

Free Zondervan Small Group Bible Study Sessions

Check out the Free Zondervan Small Group Bible Study Sessions on YouTube. Become spiritually interactive. Over 100 free Bible study sessions now on YouTube.

Discover, experience, and participate with John Ortberg, Lysa TerKeurst, Mark Batterson, Timothy Keller, Max Lucado, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and many more. There are videos relevant to everyone - women's ministry, men's studies, marriage studies, children's curriculum, teen studies, general small group studies, and much more.


 Go HERE to check them out!

5 Reasons To Quit Your Small Group

Small groups can have value and may provide a loving, growing and caring missional community.  But too often small groups just become another "program" that merely fills our time and takes our energy.

There may be reasons that you may want to consider quitting your small group...

1. If your group isn't serving together

2. If you don't connect with others in the group when you're not "officially" meeting

3. If the small group isn't developing growing disciples

4. If the group merely stays superficial

5. If it seems more like a chore rather than a delight.

Small Groups Shouldn't Be A Christian Cul-de-Sac

by Logan Gentry:

Small groups have become a staple in the American church as a way of cultivating friendships, developing community, and encouraging spiritual formation. Pastors and other small group leaders often cite Acts 2:42-47 as the model for such community devoted to God and devoted to one another through shared time, resources, and space. But there is growing sentiment for small groups to fulfill the rest of that passage---God adding to their numbers daily---by extending the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers.

We love to study the Scriptures and discuss the glorious truth of the gospel with one another, and we enjoy spending time with fellow believers. Yet we're often fearful and uneasy about what will happen if we invite people who do not believe as we do into these environments. What will happen to our intimacy? What will happen to our deep community?

I worried about the same things when church leaders first asked me to transition my community group toward an outreach focus. Now, as a pastor seeking to foster community, I'm encouraging others to transition their groups, and they're reacting with the same skepticism.

Read the rest.

(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z )

The Small Group Of One

This funny video, that you can watch over at Mark Howell, illustrates the importance of Christian community.

How To Pull Off Your First Small Group Meeting

Shallow Small Groups

Why worry about theology, service or "doing life together"? Try the Shallow Small Groups Method and you won't have to worry about being uncomfortable again!

House Churches By The Numbers

According to research from George Barna, 33 percent of people responding to a dozen national surveys indicated they have experienced God or shared their faith in the last month with a group meeting in a home environment.

But take pause before you assume the simple church movement is spreading like wildfire in the United States as it has in other countries.

Barna's latest report shows that the actual number of people involved in house churches varies wildly, depending upon how the question of participation is posed. For example, when house church is defined in the strictest sense—as a group that meets regularly in a non-church building, is independent of a typical church and considers itself a church—only 3 to 6 percent of respondents said they are involved. When asked if they have "attended a worship service in someone's home, known as a house church," about 10 percent of the adult population has done so in the past month. (Interestingly enough, simply using the words religious service instead of worship service prompted a full 22 to 24 percent of people to agree.)

So where did the one-third figure come from? That's the results from the broadest question asking if respondents had "experienced God or expressed (their) faith in God in a house church or simple church meeting in the past month." Overall, Barna believes the most consistent and reliable assessment is that 5 percent of the population is involved in a house church on a regular basis.
"With growing numbers of conventional churches attempting to incorporate both the house church concept and language into their ministries, it becomes increasingly difficult to get an accurate reading," Barna said. "All research is simply an estimate of reality, but our preference has always been to use conservative measures rather than questionable or exaggerated figures. … Each question is measuring something different; in its own way, each question is accurate and useful. The study shows that it depends on what you want to find out—and how important it is to have a well-defined sense of the element to be measured, and how questions can be crafted to distort our understanding of reality."
(ht: Barna & MinistryTodayMag )

Prodigal God - Now On DVD!

I was just talking today about Keller's book, The Prodigal God- and recommending how great it is.
Now Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal God, has now been produced in six DVD video sessions, which covers the following material:
  • The Parable
  • The People Around Jesus
  • The Two Lost Sons
  • The Elder Brother
  • The True Elder Brother
  • The Feast of the Father
You can get the DVD and the Discussion Guide at a discount through WTS Books. You can also view some sample pages of the discussion guide here.
These DVDs will be great for small groups - or even for one's own study.

(ht: JHG)

Small Group Of One

And now for some light hearted fare.

What would a small group of ONE look like?

Common Cause Groups

One of the types of small groups that we focus on at The Vine are what we call "Common Cause" groups. These are small groups in which people come around a common need or cause.

Some examples of this are our Marketplace group which connects people who want to be encourage to live and bring their faith at work. Another example is starting Celebrate Recovery, which brings people together with deep hurts and addictions. Another example of a common cause group is a marriage enrichment group, and we have been talking recently about starting a group on Finances and Money (maybe a Crown Ministry or Dave Ramsey group)

How do you start common cause groups at your church?

One of the first things you want to do is look around and see who's in your church and start praying for God to reveal the hurts and needs. Here are some questions to ask as you get started:

  • What are the people talking about?
  • What's going on in their lives?
  • What do they need?
  • What are their shared experiences?
  • What opportunities do you see to help people?
  • What needs are shared between the people of God and those outside of the church?

Once you know what the needs are, you need to identify potential leaders.

There's a lot going on in the lives of people in your congregation. When you step back and ask God to show you the opportunities, you'll see many ways to care for people, bring them together in small groups, and to allow God to start healing and transforming their lives.

Turbo Groups

I am brainstorming the idea of Turbo Groups to be used in our church's assimilation process. Here is a powerpoint that I made to help communicate the idea to some of our key leaders.

I used a new online program for the presentation

The program is called SlideRocket

This is an excellent app, it is easy to use and has a ton of great features. It is way, way better than Google's presentation app. You use any browser to design your presentation and it features all of the collaborative and social application capabilities.

Also, you can download an offline presentation viewer (that used Adobe Air) which is a wonderful and extremely helpful feature.

You gotta check out SlideRocket!

Related Posts:
Powerpoint Presentations that will WOW your audience!

Cliffnotes For Busy Pastors

Are you busy? I don't know too many pastors and ministry leaders who have tons of bandwidth in their schedule- most are busy and time is a premium commodity.

And yet, in our busyness, you know how important it is to digest tons and tons of reading material. It is important that we are well read and informed. Christian Book Summaries are FREE and may be the solution you need.

Christian Book Summaries (CBS)
is a FREE service that provides several page abstracts of both current releases as well as classic Christian writings. All of the summaries are available for download in PDF format.

CBS can be used as a substitute to reading the book or as a companion as you read the book in full. I have used CBS' outlines as a helpful guide in writing companion studies for our Life Groups at the church.

CBS is a great tool, check it out!


Check out this video created by Jeff and his friends. It was an opportunity of showing God's love in a practical way to the people of East Atlanta Village.

At the Vine Community Church, one of the aspects of our small groups are to serve together in order to reach out into the local community. We are called to be a people on mission together.

When you see a project like this one in the video, you realize that serving the community doesn't have to be complicated and beyond reach. This is a wonderfully simple, yet impactful, way to serve others.

Benched from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

How are your small groups reaching out to others?

(ht: Jeff)


Fellow blogger and pastor Todd writes this thoughtful and candid post,
Melanie and I were on a walk last night and we were talking for a bit about the challenge of being in community in our suburban environment. With all of our good intentions, its been hard to find a way gather with those who live around us to read scripture, pray together and just plain old be together.

There are a lot of factors that go into this. Children are a big key. We have two young children and we try and have them in bed by 8:00 each night so they don’t kill each other the next day. To do some kind of small group / bible study during the week is tough. Not impossible, but really, really hard to pull off.

Another issue is our busy schedules and the fact that while each of the families in our area have holes in the schedules, they rarely coincide. So, while we are free on Tuesday evenings, another family isn’t and they are free on Thursday evenings, another family isn’t, etc.
My point is, its just not cut and dry. As we talked, we are committed to finding a better way forward and figuring this thing out. But, its not easy and its not convenient. If convenience were our goal, we’d probably just keep on going like we are. (read the rest HERE)
So many families in North Atlanta feel and experience Todd and Melanie's frustration. The answers are easy, in fact they are challenging and they are going to be different for everyone. There are no cookie cutter solutions. But here is the common thread from Todd's thoughts and what I experience in my suburban context - whatever is decided - it won't be EASY, it won't be CONVENIENT. Once that premise is excepted, then we won't get so frustrated when it doesn't just easily fall into place.

What happens when Small Group announcements go BAD!

Almost every Sunday, I give this kind of announcement about connection, I just hope I never make this guy's mistake (knowing me, I probably will have my own unique gaffe though).

(ht: David)

Should You Put Small Groups Out Of Their Misery?

an excerpt from Brian Jones: A few years ago I brought in a nationally recognized pastor to do some consulting for our church. One of the things I remember the most about my time with him was a side conversation we had about small groups.

I haven’t really figured out the small group thing,” I confessed to him.

“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work.

Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples.

The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.”

“Finally,” I said, “I’ve met someone who’s got the guts to euthanize this small group sacred cow.”

I have been leading, participating in, championing, and applauding the efforts of small groups for the last 20 years of my ministry.

But now I’m done.

In my opinion they just don’t work.

And I’d like to talk about why. And why we pastors keep pushing them, as well as some thoughts as to what we could possibly replace them with.

I believe in creating disciples

…And I believe that this is what the church is called to do

…But in most instances disciples are created in spite of the small groups people participate in, not because of them

…And the problem is NOT the incredible staff members like Frank who lead
them in churches, or the sacrificial and godly people who serve as individual small group leaders, or the willing and committed people who participate in them, but the “wineskin” itself…an outdated structure who time has come to die

So I’d like to spark a conversation about how we can collectively address this problem.

And we would love it if you’d join in with us.

Read the rest HERE

my thoughts...

We have come to a similar conclusion here at The Vine Community Church. Small groups don't develop disciples. But we are still committed to them because we have altered our expectations. Small groups do have value.

Small groups are a doorway into connection and relationship within the church.

Small groups are a catalyst for service into the community.

Also Small groups become one of the fishing ponds that discipleship can be birthed from.

Currently we are going after discipleship with much intention. And the think that we tell the disciplers is that small groups provide a springboard for discipleship to take place. Of course the definition of small groups are broad. Home groups, men's groups, women's groups, serving groups, common cause groups - etc...

So we still have small groups, but we don't sell it as the tonic that will cure everything that ails you. Rather intentional and relationship driven discipleship must be happening throughout the DNA of the church in order for people to grow.

(ht: Brian Jones)