Think even smaller small group

I have been reading a book by Michael Mack entitled The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership. In this book Mack offers a lot of great insight on how to do ministry in small groups. He sympathizes for the small group lay leader who has 13-20 people in his group yet he alone is responsible for planning the group, calling and praying for his members, preparing the materials and food, hosting at his house, teaching and facilitating the group and all of the other administration tasks associated with this ministry. Not only does Michael suggest to expand the the leadership team to help delegate tasks and share responsibility for each small group, Mack goes further and suggests that each leader should really focus in on only two to four others.

Mack is not the first or only ministry leader to think of this idea. Robert Coleman in his books The Master Plan for Evangelism and The Master Plan for Discipleship, noticed that Jesus “made disciples” of only twelve disciples. Sure there were hundreds of causal followers but Jesus spent the majority of his time with  twelve. Looking even deeper in the Scriptures, Coleman shows that Jesus even focused more on three in particular. Mack agrees. Imagine if in each small group of 15-20 people, there was a leader (or shepherd) for every three or four people?

Imagine sharing life with a respected elder or someone even slightly further along the journey then you…Imagine having weekly time with a few other close friends who also love Jesus. Not only would you be able to dig deeper into the Word together, get personal attention to life’s struggles and questions, intimate prayer, but also serve God together and evangelize together! That is an amazing picture of ministry and small groups!

It reminds me of my days in Campus Crusade for Christ (or Cru) at Ohio University. This ministry is built on Coleman’s ideas. There is a weekly large group meeting for worship and teaching but the majority of the ministry is in smaller group ministry teams and Bible Studies through-out campus. Even more, as a Bible Study leader and leader on some other teams, I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one training/mentoring, we called it “discipleship.” I loved it. I meet with an older student who was discipling me. Then I also meet two younger students individually and discipled them. It is interesting now to think about it, but part of what I was doing as I discipled these young men was spiritual formation life coaching, which is something I still do today. In fact, I’ve made a career out of counseling and coaching.  

more normal than I thought

We always hear about the great stuff big churches are doing. But what about the rest of us? Mel Walker addressed that question in the May/June issue of YouthWorker Journal.

Here’s part of what he said:

We seem to glorify today’s megachurches, with their impressive facilities, attendance records, growing budgets and programming abilities. Even many youth workers tend to be attracted to the trappings of what large churches have to offer.

Yet most of us youth workers serve in small churches. According to a 2003 report from The Barna Group, fewer than 2 percent of churches in the United States have 1,000 or more adult attendees. In fact, the typical Protestant church has fewer than 90 adults in attendance on an average weekend, according to Barna, a prominent research organization.

Statistics from my fellowship of churches, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, substantiate Barna’s numbers. A few years ago our denominational publishing office commissioned a survey of its customer base, which included more than 10,000 churches from several different denominations. Among the results was this note: The average church size was around 80 people, with approximately four teenagers.

Sure, the big churches get all the attention and may be able to attract more students through their programs and facilities. It’s understandable for adult youth workers in smaller churches to feel frustrated at times about the lack of money, facilities, volunteers and even the overall lack of kids, but the truth is the vast majority of churches do not have impressive buildings, budgets or numbers to garner a interest from anyone other than the regular members or attendees.

Yet, a friend of mine has observed, “Every large church is doing its best to get smaller and every small church is trying to get larger.”

Maybe he’s on to something there. The current trend toward small groups in student ministry certainly is reflective of youth workers’ observations that there are incredible strengths in small groups. Large church youth workers understand the value of dividing the larger group into smaller units to facilitate relationship-building, adult-to-student mentoring and the development of more effective lines of communication.

Perhaps it’s time to rehearse the positive characteristics of what student ministry in smaller churches has to offer.

For more about this topic, see the May/June issue of YouthWorker Journal.

For me this is encouraging, as I lead a group of typically less than 10 students, sometimes more.

Light bulb idea!: My faith and my small groups

A real life realization about Small Groups

I made a connection today. It was a connection about my life and how I am probably the worse small group leader and youth minister ever.
I have compartmentalized my life and put my role as a small groups leader in a small box, far away from the rest of my life. I am at a point in my spiritual life where I know I should show/display/live out God’s love in my life. I want to do that, in every way. In my Quiet time today it said that sometimes we need to take action instead of giving everything to God and forgetting about it all. It is balance between prayer and action. I had been praying recently about my youth ministry, a lot. I felt that things were not right. I felt that God had a bigger plan for this youth ministry, my small group specifically and those fruits were not sprouting. I was crying out to God about it. Something clicked and these three things came together. I had compartmentalized small groups to my Sundays. I have been limiting my time and energy that I give to my men, limiting it to only one day. I realized that firstly that is not enough. Secondly, I had not taken much action to change this. Thirdly that I am inconsistent – go figure – but I am at a point where I want to show God’s love to people, but yet one of the biggest ares of my life that God has given me a chance to do this is right in front of me. It is on my mind, I am praying for these guys everyday. Why don’t I show them more love. Spend more time with them and try to become a better small group leader?
Here are some articles I have been reading lately that maybe will help you be a better small group leader too!:
Doug Fields- 10 things a great Small Groups leader does

Kevin Mahaffey Jr – 11 steps to effictive Small Groups