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The 6 Areas of a Groups Ministry

On a baseball team, rarely will you find the five-tool player that meets every need of the team. In fact, it’s impossible for one player to be the best at every single position on a baseball team – pitcher, catcher, first baseman, and centerfielder are all positions requiring a different skill-set and player make-up.  Meaning, the best overall player might not be the best in the wrong position. Baseball players enter with different strengths, weaknesses, corks, sizes, and mentalities. Similarly, small groups and Sunday School ministries take many forms, shapes, and sizes. There isn’t one position or player that can take a losing team to become a championship team over night. It normally requires the addition of several players to the bench and bullpen for success to be experienced. In the same way, there isn’t one area of a Groups (small group and Sunday School ministry) that will make it successful overnight. I have found there to be six areas of a groups ministry that require awareness, attention, and continual effort invested into these six areas to experience a flourishing groups ministry. What are they? So glad you asked, I somewhat prepared to answer your question. The six areas are broken up into two categories: Start and Strengthen.




You got this . . . or do you . . . ? (PS: This blog is not sponsored by Avis)




START


1) Discover


The first area of a groups ministry is “Discover.” To have a thriving groups ministry, you must have a continual influx of potential new group leaders. You must discover who God may be raising to become a group leader in your local church so you can begin new groups. New people are far more likely to stick and stay in a new group than they are an existing group with pre-existing friendships and relationships already formed.


"Discover" new group leaders because God is already raising them up around you - go find them.

Where do you find new group leaders? How much time do you spend on discovering the next leaders? Who are you having conversations with to find them? What processes and vehicles do you have in place to discover them? Why do you struggle or succeed in finding potential new group leaders? How do you invite them into a process to become a group leader? What does that conversation look like?


These are questions to answer in the first area of a groups ministry framework.



2) Develop


The second area is developing potential new group leaders. You cannot simply pick and place and new group leader. You must also prepare them for the ministry role. The develop or training process is crucial.


Many times, the potential new group leader gains confidence or criticism of your leadership capabilities based on how well or poorly you prepare them through the training process for their ministry role.

One training is insufficient. An interest meeting for potential new group leaders hijacked into a one-time training to then go and start a group is cheap (not the good kind). It does an injustice to the value of groups ministry and sets a low bar expectation for the new group leaders to conclude, “Groups must not be that important.” I recommend five trainings minimum that hit topics like:



- What is a Healthy Group?


- Cultivating Meaningful Relationships (Fellowship)


- Transformational Growth in Groups (Grow)


- Mobilizing Group Members to Serve (Serve)


- Activating Group Members to Advance the Gospel (Multiply)



I recommend the Group Leader Training: A Biblical Manual for Small Group Leaders and Teachers in the Local Church as a foundational resource to properly prepare and equip your new group leaders to start well. It can also be used to train existing leaders who didn’t receive similar type of training before they launched.





3) Deploy


Finding and forging potential new group leaders is not enough. You need a plan to launch them well. The beginning determines the end. How well you help them launch will dictate the longevity of their group’s success or failure. From the start, the experience they receive will set a high or low trajectory for feeling supported and successful, or not. Much of the invested time is actualized or wasted on how well you handle the hand-off from develop to deploy. Helping the new group leader answer questions like:



- When and where will your group meet?


- What study will you use or go through? Do you need resources ordered ahead of time?


- Who will you invite to join your group? Are they already in a group or not?


- How will you let people know you are starting a new group?


- Will you require childcare? How will you offer it?


- How will you take attendance and communicate with your group?


- What information are you alright with being listed publicly to make people aware of your group?



The deploy process is crucial for helping new group leaders start new groups that make disciples.



STRENGTHEN


4) Connect


The second category of the six areas of a groups ministry framework is “strengthen.” How do you help strengthen existing groups and group leaders already launched? What can you do to help make them stronger to continue ministering for spiritual formation? Increasing retention of group leaders and groups is a challenge for many local churches. Facing the reality of adding ten new groups but losing eleven from the semester prior is like letting the air out of a big hot air balloon that shrinks in size quickly. Instead, an airplane loaded with jet fuel and engine turbines to take your groups ministry where you want is more the experience, we all desire.


The fourth area of a groups ministry is “connect.” Connecting unconnected people into a group for the first time is massive. How do you identify unconnected people in your church? What mechanisms or vehicles do you use to help people join new groups? Through what communication channels do you inform people about opportunities relevant to them for getting into a group? Are there forms online? Social media posts to promote? Next step cards in the prime traffic areas of your church’s weekend gathering space?


“Connect” doesn’t only concern unconnected people. It includes connecting new group leaders into community with other group leaders. One sure way to sink a new group leader is to put them on an island by themselves without other group leaders to relate to and be encouraged by. How do you integrate new group leaders into the existing group leaders already established? Do you host a commissioning service? Are they introduced to the existing group leaders at a gathering? It is silly to ask group leaders to lead others into building community when you haven’t offered opportunity for the group leader to receive that themselves with other group leaders. How you intentionally include or passively exclude a new group leader from finding community with other group leaders will sink or swim their new group.



5) Coach


Once a group leader launches their new group, they haven’t arrived at the fullness of spiritual leadership. There is much still to experience and therefore learn.

Differing circumstances and people group leaders encounter will cause them to lean in further to seek additional equipping.

They'll want more knowledge biblically and theologically, examples for facilitating heart-level counsel and conversation, or use of best practices within and on the group. The fifth area of a groups ministry framework is “Coach.” How will you offer ongoing coaching to new and existing group leaders? What trainings can you offer them? When can you organize and schedule a group leader gathering for community building and equipping? Who can help you support existing leaders via care, relationships, encouragement, and equipping?


Whether you offer ongoing development to group leaders or not will either help or hurt their trajectory to remain high or to droop for a shorter group life and less impact for spiritual formation in the group members’ lives.



6) Care


Last but not least, “Care” is the sixth area of a groups ministry framework. Care will always be a reality of a groups ministry. Systems and structures will always require thought, adjustment, and implementation. At the heart of these, souls is the primary focus, purpose, and reason to have systems in structures in place. How does your groups ministry care for the souls of leaders and members of groups? Does your new group leader training model or explain how to best care for the souls of others? Is your process all speed up into mobilization of the group without slow down for individual care of a person? Do you address personhood at all? Or, is performance the only focus?


How you care for your group leaders will be received and replicated down into how care or don’t care for their group members.

An intentional, well-thought-out process to care for group leaders and members is essential to see ongoing spiritual formation occur through your groups ministry.



Conclusion


These are the 6 areas of a groups ministry. At Build Groups, we use this framework to coach pastors and consult churches to increase their groups ministry numerically and quality by 30 – 50% in 6 to 12 months. We could easily spend twelve hours on each of the six areas of a groups ministry with different templates and documents necessary to build the infrastructure of a thriving transformational groups ministry. If you’d like to learn more how one of our Build Groups consultants can assist you and change your ministry world, go to www.buildgroups.net/groups



 


AUTHOR


Adam Erlichman

Senior Consultant and Author at Build Groups in Dallas, TX. Adam has served in Executive, Discipleship, Groups, Young Adult, and Youth ministries. 5-time best-selling author of Christian leadership and discipleship resources. See more about Adam's consulting services to help increase your ministries by 30-50% in 6-12 months on the following topics:



 

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