Small Group Leader TIPS of the Week: August 8-12, 2016

Here are the Small Group Leader TIPS for the last week as Tweeted, posted on our Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

QUESTION: Which TIP encourages you most? Which one challenges you most? Please share your response by clicking the Comment box below.

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS here!

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week for May 16-20, 2016

Here are last week’s Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Monday, 5/16: “Admonish one another” is a command of Scripture. To grow spiritually, ppl sometimes need it. #toughlove

Tuesday, 5/17: Call a group member or 2 today simply to encourage. Be specific. Be thankful for them. #love #ministry

Wednesday, 5/18: #Prepare to lead a mtg well enough that you don’t have to overly rely on the study guide. Focus on ppl.

Thursday, 5/19: Make leading a mtg a team event. Get as many ppl as possible involved ahead of time! #Share #leadership
Friday, 5/20: Take the quiet person out for coffee/lunch, call them between mtgs, talk b4 mtg starts. #invest

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS!


Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week for May 9-13, 2016

Here are the last week of Small Group Leader TIPS as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Monday, 5/9: As you lead this week, try this: Lean not on your own understanding. Seek God and he’ll show you the way.

Tuesday, 5/10: See not only what your small group members ARE; see what they are BECOMING. #process #transformation

Wednesday, 5/11: When you face issues, remember you are the church, and “all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

Thursday, 5/12: Ask someone to be timekeeper who watches time and helps keep group on track. #sharetheroles #ownership

Friday, 5/13: Don’t be afraid to take bold, faith-requiring risks in & with your group. #GodSizeIt #Faith #LeadBoldly

Read All Small Group Leadership TIPS!


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.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

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

Follow Mike and Small Group Leadership on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks by clicking on the icons in the “Connect with Mike” box in the right column.

5 Surefire Ways to Screw Up a Small Group (Commitment and Small Groups Series #4)

1. Make your group all about you.

When you first looked for a small group, you may have done so in the same way you shopped for a new car or a new refrigerator. You looked for features you wanted, features like the right people, the right location, the right day or time, and the right kind of study or ministry, just to name of few. The problem with this consumer-driven approach is that it puts you at the center, where you do not belong. A healthy group keeps Christ and Christ only at the center. A healthy group is all about him, gathering in his presence, under his power, and for his purposes … not yours. Click here for more about keeping Christ at the center.

2. Make it all about your group.

A second thing many group members do that screw up their groups is they focus only on one another. Yes, the New Testament is clear that we are to bear one another burdens, build each other up, instruct one another, pray for each other, and much, much more, but these things are only a means to the end of God’s mission for us: to make disciples of all nations. I’ve often described a healthy group as a football huddle. We do need to get on the same page and encourage one another when we gather in our huddles, but we do so in order to break out of that huddle to run the plays to win the game. No game was ever won inside the huddle. I’ve seen many groups fall into ruin by never breaking the huddle. Click here to read more on getting out of the huddle to carry out your mission.

3. Make it all about study.

Healthy small groups dig into God’s Word with an eye to apply it to their everyday lives. Because “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). A healthy group will wrestle with God’s Word together, discussing the rock-solid truth of the Scriptures as well as the ups and downs of real life, and then wrestle with how they can better live according to God’s design. Click here to read more about how to make your group a transformational discipleship environment.

4. Be a spectator, not a participant.
This one is tied very closely to #1, because often spectators make the group all about them. But sometimes a group member simply wants to observe and not put skin in the game. People have all kinds of reasons to take this position: safety, fear, pride, or others. But for whatever reason they choose to stay uninvolved, this lack of commitment can destroy a group. Another reason true involvement stays low in some groups is a solo leader who tries to do everything. The best groups share ownership. Everyone has a role and a stake in the group. See a list of 16 possible roles in a group. Click here to see more about how to share ownership with everyone.
5. Fly by the seat of your collective pants. 
I’ve seen many small groups crash and burn simply because they had no goals or plans for the future.For many groups, the longest range plans they have is who will bring cookies next week. You will ruin your group if you do not have some goals and make some plans together. But if you talk about where you want to go–better yet, where God wants you to go together–and if you write these goals and plans down in the form of a covenant or agreement of some sort (see an example on this page), your group will flourish. This is a key to health in a small group. Click here to read more about being proactive rather than reactive as a group.
One of the roots of each of these surefire ways to screw up your group is a lack of real commitment … or a lack of commitment to the right things. If you don’t want to screw up your group but rather be a part of making it healthy, fruit-bearing, and successful, make a personal and group commitment to Christ, others, mutual discipleship, ownership, and the group’s goals and plans.

Commitment and Small Groups #3: How can you help small group members become committed to the small group?

How can you help small group members become committed to the small group? That’s the question Blake Atwood of Faith Village recently asked me. Here’s my response.

What do you think of this? What questions or issues do you find still unanswered after hearing this? 

Seven Steps to Share the Leadership of Your Group

I’ve written in other posts about the Vital Sign of Sharing Leadership with a Core Team of two or three others. Today let’s talk about HOW you can move from leading solo to team-leading the group. Here are seven steps you can take.

1. Share the load. Ask God to show you whom you should ask to be part of the core team and begin to share leadership with them. Here are a few things that will help you discover the right people for the team:

  • Don’t recruit, at least not in the usual way we usually think of “recruiting.” Instead, ask the Lord of the Harvest to send these “workers.” Trust him to help you know whom to ask.
  • Know what you’re looking for. Look for potential, not perfection. Look for servants, not saints. Look for humble hearts, not superior skills or incredible intelligence.
  • Look around you. Perhaps God has already put your core team members right around you. They may be the people in the group with whom you already have close relationships or those whose gifts complement yours.
  • Don’t do it all. People hesitate to be on a team when the leader does too much. As the group’s leader you must grow in your ability to allow others to use their gifts.
  • Don’t over-program this! You don’t need to have a big meeting to announce new leadership positions in the group, with official titles and name badges. (You don’t need no stinkin’ badges!) Just ask a few people in the group to share some of the leadership roles with you.
  • Share ownership with everyone in the group. Share leadership with a selected few. See “Share Ownership, Share Leadership” for more on the difference between the two.

2. Don’t go back! I’ve known leaders who have a core team but then continue leading alone. Don’t do it. In fact, ask your core team to hold you accountable. The next step will help with this.

3. Create a clear plan of action. Who on the core team will do what and when? How will you communicate with one another? How often do you want to meet separately from the group to play, pray, and plan?

4. Share shepherding/discipleship. Look at your group’s roster when you meet with your core team. With whom do your core team members have natural relationships? Utilize those friendships as a point of origination to shepherd them through the core team members. In one group at our church, a core couple with young children strategically shepherded the other couples with kids. It was a natural alignment. Later, as the group grew, the couples with kids launched a new group. It could not have happened more organically and easily!

5. Actively develop core team members. Leadership development is easier with the core team approach, but it requires intentionality on your part. Strategically give your core team members opportunities to lead meetings. Then visit with the core team to encourage and provide feedback. If you do this with other core team members, everyone will benefit and become an encourager. I like doing brief recap sessions right after a meeting, when possible.

6. Attend training sessions together. When your church has leadership training, recognition, or other small group events, the whole core team should attend. If your church only invites the main leaders to these trainings, extend an invitation to your core team. (Of course, make sure you’ve received approval from your church ministry leader first.)

7. Extend the Kingdom. Core teams make for healthier small groups, and healthy small groups grow. As you move to a core team approach, your group will surely grow and multiply. It is just the natural result of doing small group leadership as a team. In my church, we do not put any time limits or size limits on groups. We simply help them become healthy and the groups branch off or multiply naturally.


16 Small Group Roles: How to Share Ownership and Grow

One of the best ways to make your small group more healthy and exciting is to share ownership with everyone. 

Sharing ownership impacts your group in the following ways: (1) more consistency of attendance and participation, (2) more involvement in the discipleship process, (3) opportunities to recognize and utilize our own spiritual gifts and talents, (4) more opportunity to be involved in what we’re passionate about, (5) development of a true team as a group as everyone uses his or her own gifts, (6) less stress on the leader to do everything, which leads to (7) less leader burnout and (8) more opportunity to develop future leaders. 

Below are some small group roles. I’m sure there are plenty more than the roles I list below, so I’m looking forward to what you suggest!

  • Study Champion: Facilitates study time; helps group decide on what to study
  • Serve Champion: Helps plan serving opportunities with group
  • Outreach Champion: Helps group reach out to and pray for friends who do not have a relationship with Christ
  • Inreach Champion: Keeps group focused on themselves rather than anyone else outside the group. Has strong belief that the group revolves around him and his needs
  • Worship Champion: May lead worship in group, whether it involves singing, or other forms of worship
  • Social Champion: Helps plan group social activities
  • Prayer Champion: Leads prayer times, may keep prayer journal
  • Doomsday Champion: Makes plans for the whole group for all end-of-the-world scenarios. Spiritual gift: prophesy (she says). Knows the book of Revelation forward and backward. Has seen the movie 2012 twelve times.
  • Host(ess)/Hospitality Champion: Hosts group or helps plan who hosts
  • Food Champion: Helps plan anything dealing with food
  • Timekeeper: Helps group stay on track with time
  • Topper: Role is to top anyone else’s story or prayer request (reference: Dilbert)
  • Information Champion: Keeps group information up-to-date. Communicates with the Small Groups Ministry Office about the group. (This person is probably administrative and enjoys using the web; i.e. Facebook)
  • American Idol Champion: Keeps the group up-to-date weekly on what is happening on his or her favorite reality TV shows, sometimes interrupting worship or Bible study to do so. Does not get along well with Worship or Study Champions or Timekeeper.
  • Group Communication Champion: Communicates with the group about meetings, etc. (This person may enjoy using email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Coffee Champion: Makes sure coffee is brewed at each meeting. Is usually a “coffee snob.” Helps keep group awake during Study Champion’s less-exciting lessons.
OK, maybe these are not all real group roles. And maybe you have a few of you own. Please share them by commenting below! 
A PDF of my official list I’ve used in my church ministry can be downloaded from HERE. (Scroll down to the FREE Downloads section and click on “Share_Ownership.pdf.”) Feel free to make copies of that list to utilize in your small group. 


The Incredible Opportunity of “I Don’t Know”

The editor at recently posted on Facebook, “Get comfortable with these three words: ‘I don’t know.’ You don’t need to know all the answers, but offer to find out.”

I agree with that good advice, but I’d take it one step further to help your group really grow. (This is a great discipleship opportunity for you!) Rather than saying “I don’t know but I’ll find out,” try saying, “I don’t know but let’s all research that before our next meeting. Here are some places you might find the answer…” Provide some Bible passages to look up, sound biblical websites, or a minister at your church. If you don’t know these off the top of your head, find out and email the info to members as soon as you can.

This gives ownership to group members and helps them learn how to discover answers for themselves. People retain information best when they discover it for themselves. And when they come ready to share, you’re developing them as future leaders.


Bring Out the Best in Others in Your Group (Michael Sove on Sharing Leadership)

Today I read a good blog by Michael Sove on the Joel Comiskey Group website. Read the blog HERE.

Michael wrote about sharing leadership with a core team as well as the vitality of sharing ownership with the whole group. He wrote:

My group has come alive since praying in and incorporating a core team approach.  But don’t settle with simply forming a core team and utilizing the gifts of the team.  Everyone who gathers with the group has something to share.

Both of these are extremely important factors in being a healthy small group. Unfortunately, I see a lot of group leaders leading alone. It’s so good to see a group that’s getting this right and seeing the blessings and benefits!

If you ARE sharing leadership and ownership, what blessings have you seen?

If you are NOT sharing leadership and ownership, what are your biggest obstacles?