Part 4 – How to Refocus Your Small Group Ministry

Note: this post is the fourth entry of a series entitled, “Rebuilding the Sunday School/Small Group Ministry in the Local Church.”

When I turned 40 I discovered my vision was becoming blurry. Low light situations became a struggle. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see, but that I had lost my clarity of vision. However, with a visit to the optometrist and new set lenses, I was as good as new—vision restored. Likewise, after a year full of ministry challenges, it’s time to refocus and add clarity to our Small Group ministries, so we can achieve a greater level of effectiveness through newness.

Here are four things to think about:

  1. Evaluate your ministry. What is the current status?
  2. How do you move forward? Is it about accomplishing the mission or filling a position?
  3. Engagement of leadership. How can you partner with leaders so they can experience success and health in their groups?
  4. Leading your organization to be more effective is critical, more than ever before.

Evaluating means we must take a hard look and be honest with ourselves. What’s being done?  Is it effective in accomplishing the mission of reaching people? What adjustments are you willing to make in order to accomplish your Small Group ministry mission? In his curriculum, “Forward from Here,” Alan Taylor, drives home the point, “you can only move forward from where you are; not where you wish to be.” So let me encourage you, take an honest inventory of where you are, and make the needed adjustments.

Enlistment of leaders is one of the most important steps in refocusing. We may do it differently, but it remains a critical component to ministry growth. Leaders need to understand what is being asked of them, so, share the vision and mission of your Small Group ministry. After all, we’re not asking them to “fill a position,” but to “accomplish the mission.” In addition to clarity of mission, your leaders need to understand the expectations of leadership. Training should include an understanding of both the mission and steps on how to accomplish it. After all, it’s nearly criminal to ask someone to accomplish the mission without training them and providing the tools to succeed. You may elect to offer this training annually, monthly or weekly—whatever works best for your team.

Engagement of leaders is also important. Partner with your leaders to help them find success and experience health in their groups. Engagement is separate from enlistment because of the relational element. It may be time for you to sit down with your Small Group leaders and have coffee. Talk about their lives and learn about them as individuals. This part of the training will help your leaders to accomplish the mission, and give you opportunity to pastor, encourage and guide them in the unique situations of their Small Groups. In other words, Ministry Leader, be a friend to those who lead within your ministry. It’s your calling.

Expansion is the final step in the process. Starting new units is paramount to organization growth and reach. New things tend to grow more quickly, possess a greater level of health and be more flexible. Starting new groups will assist you in spreading the vision to more people with greater effectiveness. In addition to new group expansion, growth should include multiplying existing groups…examine the size of groups, so real community and conversation can take place. Remember, sitting in a circle or rows with 30 people may not provide the best format for a community that fosters life change. So, multiplying those groups will provide increased health and opportunity to accomplish the mission. Expanding your organization to be more effective is more important now than ever before. Starting new groups in the right way with properly enlisted and pastored leaders is a great spring board to a healthy, focused Small Group ministry.

Each of us are going to approach the refocusing process in our own special way, but, if you do nothing else, please take seriously the need to evaluate your current status. This is your starting point, not your finish. After more than 25 years of local church ministry, I know the power of a healthy Small Group ministry. It has created an army of people to serve and added stability to lives in this changing time. God is using effective Small Groups to lead people to Jesus and become His fully devoted followers. Is my desire that we would have a healthy growing Small Group ministry in every community of Louisiana. It starts with you. Now, what’s your next step?

Author: Beau Guidry is the Director of Small Groups, at First Baptist Church, Moss Bluff, LA.