Tag Archives: Growth groups

The Path to a Healthy Group, Part One

Leadership is influence and therefore you are the lead influencer of your growth group. If you are anything like me you may find yourself asking what do I do? How do I influence them? What areas do I focus on? How is this group going to get healthy? In order for growth groups to be healthy, growing both spiritually and numerically leaders need to have a path to follow, stepping stones if you will to guide the group. A tool by which they can evaluate the direction and progress of their group.
There is one thing that is bound to happen without a plan in place. More than likely as a leader you will hear the expectations that are placed on you and you will become overwhelmed. After becoming overwhelmed we then become discouraged because you believe there is no way you can live up to the expectations. As a result you simply begin to emphasize the things that fall within your strengths. If you are a really friendly person and love to hang out with people then more than likely your group will be strong on caring for each other but really weak on the teaching aspect. Or maybe you love to teach, ex- plaining the word of God to your group and as a result your group will be really strong on truth but perhaps weak on outreach or care of group members. The goal is balance, having groups that are equally focused on praying, care, outreach and teaching. When this balance comes groups will become healthy and reach their potential for growth.
This series of articles intends to lay out an organic path to help your group move towards balance and health. The reason “organic” is used is because the goal is not to give you every nut and bolt on the how to’s but rather to give you the overarching principles. The leader then can take and apply these principles to their group with its setting and uniqueness’ and find the most success. The encouraging thing is that this path does not require a certain kind of leader. Whether you are and intro-vert, extrovert, organized or disorganized is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not you work hard to implement these different aspects into your group.
The path we have laid out has two major sec-tions, first covering leaders and then covering the group. When we talk about the leader we want a pray-ing leaders focused on empowering disciples.
I was talking to a pastor about small groups and he said one of the greatest benefits to groups is the ability to develop leaders or as stated above to develop “empowered disciples.” The leader also needs to be connected to and dependent on Jesus for the ability to lead or else we will have groups that are not Spirit led. The growth of disciples will only be real if it is the work of the Spirit in our lives.
The second part of the plan focuses on the group. This part has been further broken down into the the following five categories:
A Praying group: Groups need to be praying together. They need the Lord to be at work in their lives and they need to ask. Groups need to pay attention to the climate of the group by the types of prayer requests that are brought up. We learn the burdens of the heart through the requests of the people.
Word Focused: The word of God will help us grow in the way that God wants us to grow. Groups will not be about what we think but what God thinks. People’s needs and situations need to be ministered to by the Word of God.
Covenanted Together: Acts 2 tells us about the early church and the commitment they had to one another. They were so committed that they met daily and were willing to sell their possessions to give to others. Members of groups need to be taught what commitment looks like and the leaders need to model it for them.
Caring Environment: Groups is the primary place that we care for the needs of one another. Everyone needs to grow to under-stand that if they are not connected to a group then there is a good chance that needs that arise in their life may go unmet. They will go unmet not because we do not care but because they are not committed to a group. Groups will always be best situated to celebrate with those who celebrate and to hurt with the hurting. Each week members should walk away knowing that they are loved and cared for.
Reach Out: The church is called to share the gospel and to spread the kingdom of God. The groups need to be mobilized to do that. This can happen through service projects in the community or by reaching out to their neighbors in love and praying for opportunities to share the gospel with them. Groups can also hold events that are conducive to inviting those not connected with the church. Then praying that they would experience the love of God and want to become a part of the group.
This is an organic path that leaders can implement to help their group become healthy. This is hard stuff but as each area is encouraged and grows within the group the leader will be greatly rewarded as they see members loving God and each other more. Take some time and begin to think through your group. How is it doing in each of these areas? Begin brain-storming ways that you can help your group grow in the areas that seem weak. Ask members of your group to think through these areas and to give you feedback as to where they believe the group is strong and week.
Over the next few weeks each of the areas mentioned above will be laid out with more detail and with suggestions on how to have your group grow in these areas. One final encouragement is in order. If you as a leader is not regularly praying for your group as a whole and for each member then that is the first thing you need to do. Leader invite God to lead your group, beg Him to invade the hearts of every member, that your group might see the mighty acts of God and bear every good fruit that He has planed out for them.

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Your Role is Bigger than you Realize

This is an article that I wrote to the growth group leaders at our church MorningStar Baptist Church. I hope and pray that it can be helpful to others as well.

My wife and I have four children and one of the hardest things for them to understand is how much influence the older have over their younger siblings. I feel as though everyday I have a discussion with one of them explaining how much their younger siblings will follow their example. Our three year old often amazes me with how much she knows and the physical things that she is capable of doing. As much as I would be honored to have a prodigy I realize that she has learned quickly and is very confident because of the influence of her older two siblings. I must continually remind them of the influence they have and how important it is for them to honor God with that influence.

Lately I have come under conviction as a husband and father feeling the weight of responsibility that I have as I influence my family. The things that I value will be the things that my wife and kids value. If I like ice cream then probably they will end up liking ice cream. Today as I got dressed and put on jeans one of my little girls came out with jeans on and told me she was wearing jeans like I was. If they here me being critical of others then they become critical of others. If my kids see me loving my wife/their mom in a godly way then one day they will be in much better shape to have a strong marriage. On a more serious note if my relationship with God is a show and only matters on Sunday then they will begin to see me as a hypocrite and eventually reject the faith. I wield influence in their lives even when I don’t realize it.

In the Old Testament the nation of Israel was led by kings and in the life of those kings we learn about the power of influence. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. The kings of Israel are a great example of the influence that leaders carry. Take time to read 2 Chronicles and take notice of the pattern that emerges. When a new king is introduced it records for us how many years that king reigned and then shares what kind of life the king lived. The writer describes how the king followed the Lord. Then as you read about the king’s reign we learn how that affected the nation. If the king sought after the Lord then the nation of Israel sought the Lord, and if the king rebelled against God then the nation rebelled against God. Take Manasseh for example in 2 Chronicles 33:
Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abom-inations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

Then if you read v. 9 we learn how the people responded:
Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.

This is just one example of many throughout 2 Chronicles that reveals the influence that the kings had on the people. Maxwell makes a strong point in saying that leadership is influence.

When is the last time that you took the time to stop and think about your role as a growth group leader? Have you contemplated how valuable you are to the health of your church? Do you understand how the life you live as a disciple affects the influence you have on your group? In a lot of ways you are the king of a small nation and the way that you lead that nation and the way you live your life before them will have great influence on their spiritual health. In turn it will affect the health of the church.

As growth group leaders you hold extremely important positions in the life of your church. Your role isn’t important because you have the ability to make decisions that affect the whole church and it isn’t important because you control a large portion of the budget. Your role is so important because of the influence you have over the lives of the members in your group. The spiritual health of you as growth group leaders is essential to the health of the group. Your energy and the dedication given to connect group members to God and others cannot be underestimated. Your buy-in and support of the vision of the church is important to the whole body becoming aligned to focus on the mission God has called us to.

Your ability to recruit people who are not in groups will determine how successful we are at getting a high participation rate of members in growth groups. The more that individuals are connected to a growth group the less likely we are to lose them out the back door of the church. Leaders, you will influence your group, the question is what kind of influence are you being? Over the next few weeks you will receive a number of articles that address how you will influence your growth group. The goal is that as you come to understand the importance of your role you will then be able to become laser focused with how you lead your group to connect with God and to connect with others.

May you be challenged to take time this week and pray through the kind of influence that you are having on your group. Remember these are God’s children that you are providing oversight with in His group. Are you honoring Him and the work His Son did on the cross as you influence your group. Finally this is not about how capable you are but rather how dependent you are on God and His Spirit, allowing Him to work through you. The best thing you can do for your group is to walk humbly and intimately with Jesus.

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