Authentic Community (Part 2)

In a new small group, prayer requests can tend to be either superficial or they’re six degrees removed from the person who makes the request (“Please pray for my brother’s friend who has an aunt whose nephew has a dog that ran away from home”). As a small group grows and deepens relationally, people will begin to be more personal and vulnerable with their prayer requests. One of the ways you as a leader can show great care and encouragement to the members of your group is by following up with people who’ve expressed a specific and pressing prayer need.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:

  1. Never underestimate the power of a personal phone call. A great way to value the people you lead is to occasionally check in with them and ask for an update on their prayer concern.
  2. Allow for a monthly time of prayer updates and praises during group time.
  3. Pair people in the group into prayer partners who can check in with each other during the week. Each person in the group then has someone who is personally invested in ongoing prayer and following up.
  4. Send a text message to the person to let them know you prayed for their request that day.

It’s amazing how something so simple can serve people so well! One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to show people how valued they are and by following up with people who open up during prayer requests is a great way to do just that.

Authentic Community

There are many components that go into a fruitful small group experience such as bible study, prayer, fellowship, and caring for each other. While all of these elements are of great importance, the small groups team believes that level of authenticity and vulnerability among the group members is one of the key factors to maximize biblical community.

We ran across a list of questions that will help you and your group evaluate how you’re doing at pursuing authenticity and vulnerability with each other. In the coming weeks, pick 2-3 of these questions and work through them together in your small group. These questions are great for cultivating and maintaining authentic relationships in your small group!

• When was the last time you celebrated a victory over sin of another group member another group member’s victory over sin?
• When was the last time you admonished another member of your group in the area of speech, conduct, love, faith or purity?
• When was the last time you shared with your group what you personally read, learned and applied in your life from God’s word?
• When was the last time you discussed a spending decision with your group?
• When was the last time you discussed a giving decision with your group?
• Could you name the “Achilles heels” of others in your group? Could others name your’s?
• In what ways are you encouraging their growth in these areas?
• How have you helped them live wisely/be accountable based on your awareness?
• When is the last time you discussed, as spouses, the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s marriage?
• What was the last conflict in the group and how was it handled?
• When was the last time someone had to ask for forgiveness from the group?

Leadership Community (Part 2)

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 7

The more I reflect upon Paul’s letter to Philemon the more I see powerful relevance and application that relates to small group leadership. If you weren’t at our closing leaders community this past Sunday we wanted you to hear something very important that we communicated to our leaders.

The small groups team wants to extend our great thanks to you as leaders for doing what Paul commends Philemon, that is, for “refreshing the hearts of the saints”. The word that Paul uses for heart conveys a deeply emotional sentiment (literally: “inward parts”). As you know, the Colossian church met in Philemon’s home. Philemon wasn’t the senior pastor of the community and he may not have even been an elder but because of the Christ-like love he shared with the folks in his home, the body had benefited immensely. Leaders, you may not realize this but you have refreshed the hearts of so many of the folks whom you lead, whether it be through prayer or follow up to a prayer request, a kind encouraging word or through facilitating a fruitful discussion. We want you to know that you are valued and that your ministry magnifies our great God and savior.

We also want to thank everyone who was able to make it to the leaders community over the past 3 Sunday’s. As a small group team we are very curious about which leaders took the opportunity to break and how many groups continued to meet without their leader. If you have a story about what God did in your life personally over the break or how the group benefited during this time, please email your staff contact to share that with us. We are also interested in getting feedback about the leaders community so that we are able to maximize the effectiveness of that time to best serve you as leaders.

Leadership Community

And I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. Philemon 6

What a blessing it was for us to be part of a multi-generational interactive Bible study, this past Sunday afternoon. A room full of Tysons small group leaders got to worship, study, and encourage one another by discussing application questions from the biblical text. If you were not able to be part of our time we want to strongly encourage you to come out for the next two Sundays from 3:30-5:00 in room 1410.

As we looked at Philemon, verses 1-7, our big take away that specifically relates to small group leadership was from Paul’s prayer for Philemon in v6. Paul prays that Philemon’s ministry and fellowship with the Colossian believers, who meet in his home, would be even more fruitful. How might this happen? Paul says this happens through a deeper knowledge of every good thing that Philemon has in Christ. What Paul means is the more Philemon comes to treasure all that God is for him in Christ, the more effective Philemon will be in his love and ministry to those he is with in community. That idea has so much relevance for us as small group leaders! Don’t miss the study and discussion this week. If you plan on coming, then please review verses 1-7 and spend a little time looking at verses 8-16.

Praying that God will make your leadership even more fruitful for the sake of the gospel!

It’s Time to Take a Break (Part 4)

I recently had the opportunity to sit in my son’s kindergarten class and was fascinated how the teacher created such a structured classroom environment. When the children get too loud and talkative the teacher simply gives a verbal cue that prompts an immediate hush. When it’s time for the students to transition to a different learning/project station the teacher simply gives a cue and the students happily comply. Without the careful direction of the kindergarten teacher the class has the potential to quickly give way to “kindergarten chaos”. Ok, well what’s this got to do with leading a small group?

This is not what a small group meeting should look like! Of course, we want your small group to be a structured environment that has rhythm and purpose. We want a group environment to be conducive for learning, for prayer, and for fellowship. But, our goal, as small group leaders, is to get the group to the point to where it’s self-sustaining. What I mean is your small group should not stay at a place where the health and fruitfulness of the group is determined solely upon the skills and personality of the small group leader. In the last lifelines, we introduced this idea and we said that we’d follow up this week on some ideas as to how to move your group towards being self-sustaining. Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t be overly didactic in your teaching style. Great small group leaders are those who are great facilitators. Remember, Leadership is all about dialogue not monologue.
  2. Be intentional about raising up leadership within your group and then utilize those leaders (Apprentice, hospitality, prayer request taker, etc). Remember, good leaders are good delegators.
  3. Occasionally, have someone else facilitate the discussion on the week’s material. Consider asking someone else in the group to come prepared with 3-4 discussion questions or having everyone contribute 2-3 and draw them from a hat.
  4. Take a 3-week break from leading your group and join us for our leader’s community on 3/27, 4/3, and 4/10 at 3:30 PM. It will be a great opportunity for you to be equipped in your leadership and fellowship with other leaders and a great opportunity for your group to learn how to be self sustaining.