Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: February 8-12, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 2/8: Focus your ldrshp on the Greatest Commandments: Love God; love people. Do these and you’ll be OK.

Tuesday, 2/9: Allow God’s love and message to be so much a part of you that it naturally overflows. #modelthelove

Wednesday, 2/10: Be a Proverbs 3:5 leader; trust the Lord with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own understanding.

Thursday, 2/11: God is a God of process. Spiritual maturity takes time, patience, and a healthy environment.

Friday, 2/12: Lead as if God has placed each person in your group just as he wants them to be (1 Co 12:18) b/c he has!

 

All Small Group Leadership TIPS

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The Challenge of Challenging People: 7 Keys to What Works

I’ve known today’s guest blogger for more years than either of us would care to admit. I first came across her material on small group leadership 20-some years ago when I was an editor at Standard Publishing, and we’ve partnered on several projects ever since. Today, Pat writes and speaks from her home base in California. She is the author of Why Didn’t You Warn Me? How to Deal with Challenging Group Members and a member of the Editorial Advisory Panel for SmallGroups.com.  She is the founder and President of Mighty Oak Ministries, and blogs at Why Didn’t You Warn Me?and An Ordinary Woman Pursuing Splendor.

GUEST POST by Pat J.Sikora. Follow her on Twitter at @PatSikora or on her ministry website, Mighty Oaks Ministries.

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Challenging people. Wounded people. Dysfunctional people. Each year we see more in the church. Your average small group might have one challenging person. Those leaders can read my book. But have you considered leading a group of people so wounded they don’t conform to the “norms” of small groups? As I have led groups of severely wounded women, I’ve learned 7 keys about what works and what doesn’t.

 

  1. Be clear when inviting participants. Many wounded people have had problems being part of a group. They already feel ostracized. So I’m honest. I let them know that in addition to Bible study we’ll work on group skills. Most are excited by this.
  2. Keep it small. A skilled leader can manage six to ten members, but with challenging people, limit it to four. It’s OK. It’ll feel like ten! You’ll want plenty of time to do the study, process group issues, and deal with distractions.
  3. Agree in advance. I use a group covenant that includes meeting time, attendance and punctuality expectations, goals, confidentiality requirements, boundaries, and anything else I expect to be an issue. Members need to understand your expectations and to share theirs.
  4. Stress attendance and punctuality. Be especially clear about your expectations here. Challenging people always have something come up. Their car breaks down, their kids get sick, they get sick, their favorite TV program is on . . . They need to understand their absence creates hole in the group and that arriving late or leaving early is disruptive. Start the group on time, regardless of who is there and try to end on time, regardless of how much is left to cover. Talk about attendance and punctuality often and affirm those who make improvements.
  5. Discuss group processes. In a group of challenging people, you’ll face a bit of everything. Discuss expectations in advance and provide reminders as necessary. Cut off the person who never takes a breath and call on the quiet one—difficult skills, for sure. Challenging people are lonely. When they have someone to listen, many go on and on—and on. It takes grace to lovingly cut off a member over and over—and over.
  6. Set boundaries. Some challenging people want to be your new best friend. Decide early if that’s your goal. I set firm boundaries, telling members I only answer the telephone when it’s convenient, and I can’t spend much time on the phone. Challenging people always have a crisis. They always need to talk. I need to give up my Messiah complex and remember that they reached their present age without me. Chances are, they’ll live without my undivided attention.
  7. Enforce confidentiality. As with any group, confidentiality is essential. Even challenging people need to know that their private lives are private. Enforce confidentiality in the group as well, dealing with breeches immediately and firmly.

 

Leading a group of challenging people can be, well—challenging.  But you’ll be glad you did. They’re delightful, and watching them grow will be the most enriching experience you’ve had in ages!

MORE ON HOW TO DEAL WITH GROUP CHALLENGES

 

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week:February 1-5, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 2/1: Don’t use your group to promote your favorite candidate. But pray for our country and its leaders.

Tuesday, 2/2: Keep growing in your faith and leadership skills. Read books, blogs, & articles on SG ldrshp.

Wednesday, 2/3: Treat your mtg not as a project to complete but a sacred time to connect w/ God and one another.

Thursday, 2/4: Check the thermostat, literally. Experts say the best temp for a group is 67°.

Friday, 2/5: Avoid advising. Unless they ask, ppl don’t want you to solve their problems. They need you to listen.

All Small Group Leadership TIPS

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Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week(s): January 25-29, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 1/25: Ask a member to be the group timekeeper.They tactfully keep the group on track and watch the time.

Tuesday, 1/26: Sometimes as a shepherd you must lead ppl out of their comfort zones so they depend more on God and grow.

Wednesday, 1/27: As a leader you must lead, even if it’s not where group mbrs want to go. A shepherd doesn’t follow the sheep.

Thursday, 1/28: Lead your group to do something God-sized…so big that if God isn’t in it, it’s destined to fail.

Friday, 1/29: Remember, you, not the study, are the group shepherd (actually, the undershepherd, but that’s another tweet).

All Small Group Leadership TIPS

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Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week(s): January 11-22, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past 2 weeks as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn. (Last week I taught a one-week “intensive” Small Group Ministry and Discipleship seminary class at Cincinnati Christian University, and the week before that I was buried in preparing for it, so I’m catching up now!)

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Monday, 1/11/2015: Seek deeper vulnerability, but allow members to say “pass.” #authentic #community
Tuesday, 1/12: Encourage one another DAILY. Real community is more than a once-a-week thing. #authenticity

 
Wednesday, 1/13: Provide safe places to confess your sins to one another – 1:1, same-gender subgroup… #authenticity


Friday, 1/15: After you ask question, wait full 6 seconds to give ppl time to respond. Thx, @micahodor

Monday, 1/18: Practice mutual discipleship. Encourage… Instruct… Admonish… Pray for… one another.

Tuesday, 1/19: Care for the ppl in the group God has given you, not b/c you must but b/c you’re willing. #1Peter5 

Wednesday, 1/20: What do you study next? Answer as a shepherd, not a TV network programmer. 

Thursday, 1/21: When you pray together, spend time thanking God for all the ways he has and is answering your prayers. 

Friday, 1/22: Ask 1 member to keep and share a prayer journal that lists requests and how God answers them.
 

All Small Group Leadership TIPS

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Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: December 28, 2015 – January 1, 2016

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 12/28: Make God, not yourselves, the main character as you study his Word. #BibleStudy
Tuesday, 12/29: Bible study = connecting God’s story to your stories. Don’t settle for either-or. #both-and #BibleStudy

 
Wednesday, 12/30: Commit with one another to mutual discipleship. Each person takes responsibility for one another.


Thursday, 12/31: Move group members from attending to participating to serving to sharing to leading. #discipleship
 
Friday, 1/1/2016: Set at least 3 God-given, God-sized goals for 2016. Then plan for how you will accomplish them.

All 2015 Small Group Leadership TIPS

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Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: December 21-25, 2015

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 12/21: Encourage every person in your group to pray every day for every other person in your group. #power

Tuesday, 12/22: Call group members, especially those struggling thru this season. #shepherding #love #ministry .

 
Wednesday, 12/23: Encourage group members to invite ppl to Chr. Eve services. You’ll be surprised how many will say yes.


Thursday, 12/24: While celebrating with your blood family today, don’t forget your spiritual family. #love #Christmas
 
Friday, 12/25: Focus on Immanuel-God with us-all year round. #ChristsPresence

10 Weeks of Small Group Leadership TIPS

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Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: December 14-18, 2015

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 12/14: Pay attn and respond to ppl’s body language as well as verbal language. Study #kinesics. #facilitate

Tuesday, 12/15: Use your own body language to get ppl involved. Lean fwd, look at ppl, keep open posture… #facilitate

 
Wednesday, 12/16: #1 facilitating tip: Truly CARE about the ppl in the grp – their physical, emotional, spiritual needs.


Thursday, 12/17: Divide into same-gender subgroups of 2-4 for prayer, application, and ministry to 1 another. #community

Friday, 12/18: Keep God’s Word the foundation of every part of group life. Be comfortable with going to it often.

MORE SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP TIPS 

All 9 Weeks of Small Group Leadership TIPS

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24 Icebreakers for a Small Group Christmas

Here are 24 icebreaker questions and activities I’ve written over the years that you can choose from. (Tip: save or print this for future use!)

How are you “lighting up” your home for Christmas? Who is in charge of the lights and other decorations? Any special traditions?

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What are your expectations this Christmas? What are you hoping for?

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What does your busiest week in December look like?

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Describe the favorite or most meaningful Christmas card you’ve received this year. (If possible, ask group members to bring their favorite card with them.) What makes this card so meaningful?

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In 60 seconds, write down the titles of as many Christmas songs or carols as you can think of that mention angels. At the end of the 60 seconds, see who came up with the most and the most original.

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How well are you prepared for Christmas? Physically (home decorations, buying gifts)? Financially? Emotionally? Spiritually?

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What is the most special Christmas gift you’ve ever received? What makes a gift special to you?

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Ask all three of these questions:

  • What is the most memorable Christmas gift you ever received?
  • What is the most memorable Christmas gift you have ever given?
  • Which was more meaningful to you?

 

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As you anticipate Christmas, what phrase or phrases best describe you?

  • OH NOOO, there’s so much to get done!!!
  • How long IS your family staying?
  • Do we HAVE to buy a gift for every single person we know?
  • What a wonderful time of year to reflect on the birth of Jesus and all the promises.
  • I really miss the people who are not going to be with us this Christmas.
  • Other

 

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If you could give any gift to anyone, what would you give, to whom, and why?

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What is the silliest gift you ever received for Christmas? What was the silliest gift you ever gave for Christmas?

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Is there someone (don’t name names) that you will avoid at a Christmas Party this year? What avoidance techniques do you employ?

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Which Christmas carol evokes the strongest memory for you and why?

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When you were a kid, did you sneak and find your gifts? How far did you go to figure out what you were going to get for Christmas?

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What scene is your favorite from It’s a Wonderful Life? Can you quote a line from the film?

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As people arrive, give each a name tag to wear for the evening. Instruct them to print their first names vertically down the left side of the tag and then print a word or words for each letter describing their favorite things about Christmastime.

Leader Tip: Create your own name tag first, before other people arrive. As always, you as the leader go first and model this for the group.

As everyone gets settled, invite each person to introduce themselves and say why they chose the words they put on their tags.

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Before the meeting, set up a nativity set in the center of the room where all participants can see it. Ask:

  • What traditions, if any, did your family have with the nativity set?

Now pick up Mary and show her to the group. Ask:

  • How have you viewed Jesus’ mother Mary through your life?
  • From where did you develop your views of her?

 

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Set up the nativity set in the center of the room where all participants can see it. Pick up Joseph and show him to the group, then ask: What is your general impression of Joseph? Explain your response.

  • He’s an extra in the Christmas story. I don’t even notice him.
  • He’s got a part in the manger scene, but he’s always in the background.
  • He was always there for Mary, standing behind her and taking care of her. His role was simply to be Mary’s husband.
  • He probably was a good dad. He taught Jesus to be a carpenter.
  • He’s the leading man in the Christmas story. God chose him to be Jesus’ earthly father.
  • He’s a great man of faith, a great model for us to emulate.
  • Other: ______

 

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Point out the shepherds and angels outside the nativity scene. Without saying anything, move the shepherds so that they are gathered around the manger. Then ask:

  •  As a kid, what Christmas traditions, if any, did your family have as it related to the shepherds and angels?
  • Did you ever play one of these parts in a Christmas pageant?
  • Was your tree topper an angel?
  • Anything else?
  • How about in your family today?

 

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As a child, how did your family build up to Christmas Day? Did you have any particular traditions to help you anticipate Christmas (for instance, an Advent wreath, candles, a calendar, creative use of the nativity set, etc.)? Do you have any traditions today?

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As a young child how did you anticipate the coming of Christmas Day?

  • It can’t get here soon enough!
  • It can’t be over soon enough!
  • Other: _______

How would you answer the same question now?

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What family Christmas traditions are you using this year to focus on Christ and why he came into the world?

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What’s your favorite quote from any Christmas movie? The first person to guess what movie it’s from and the name of the person who said it wins (a white elephant gift?).

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(For after Christmas) How was this Christmas different from previous Christmases?

MORE CHRISTMAS IDEAS AND RESOURCES

What to Do When God Does Not Feel Very Much Like “Immanuel”
Not Just Another Sentimental Christmas Message
7 Ways Your Small Group Can Celebrate the Incarnation this Christmas Season: #1: Experience Christmas!
#2: Celebrate Immanuel
#3: Love Those Who Are Struggling
#4: Give Gifts
#5: Start Some New Traditions
#6 & 7: Party and Plan

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: December 7-11, 2015

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

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Monday, 12/7: Use this season strategically to make a difference in the environment in which God has placed you.

Tuesday, 12/8: Remember that nothing that happens in the world surprises God. He placed you here for his purpose.

Wednesday, 12/9: Worship with your group. Jesus is present with you (Matt. 18:20). How can you not worship him?

Thursday, 12/10: Christmas is a time to be with family and friends. That’s what a healthy group is. Why would you take a break?

Friday, 12/11: You don’t need to repeat prayer requests back to Jesus as if he wasn’t listening the 1st time.

MORE SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP TIPS 

All 8Weeks of Small Group Leadership TIPS

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