After the members in our groups have experienced Healthy Relationships and have experienced Spiritual Growth what is there left to do? The answer is simple: give it all away... I love how Jesus sent out His followers in Matthew 10. He gave them clear instructions to help those who were in need, who were marginalized, and who were oppressed. How were His followers to do that? He said, "Give as freely as you have received!" Here are a couple more resources to help groups know where to start and other ideas for ways to serve.
1. I believe the best service from our groups begins with an intentional conversation. We can have all sorts of great ideas, but what is God stirring in the hearts of your members? What are your members passionate about or noticing in their circles of influence? This resource begins with scripture and ends with our response. Check out this resource by clicking here.
At Branches we believe that life transformation happens best in the context of a group. There is nothing like watching someone take steps to growing closer to God and looking more like Jesus. Sometimes it can feel like a lot of pressure to get this part of groups right. We may wonder if we're giving enough, saying enough, or sharing the right things. What's amazing about spiritual growth is that there is no secret formula to helping people experience it. It is something that the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of people. What we can do is create moments where people can be challenged and reflect on what God is doing.
How do we help people to pursue healthy relationships? Do we really need to do that? YES! For many people it takes a little bit of effort to get out of themselves and to begin to care for others. For many they can be unsure of where a healthy relationship even begins. We've posted a couple resources we encourage our group leaders to use to help people begin taking steps to experience care.
1. One of the best ways to start creating an environment where people can experience healthy relationships is by spending time letting people share their stories. Whether your group is brand new or has been meeting for years - I'm 99.9% sure that there are parts of people stories that others don't know and could relate to! You could spend a few weeks this fall sharing stories as part of your group time. Discover some creative ways of sharing by clicking here.
It is said, "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." What are you aiming for in your Group? How do you gauge the success of your Group? Is it by attendance, number of meetings, curriculum, or something else entirely? We want to encourage all our Group leaders to take aim at simply creating an environment where people can pursue healthy relationships, spiritual growth and opportunities to serve others.
We know we are winning in our Groups when:
1. People experience HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
There are so many ways to define healthy relationships. People connecting with each other, following up throughout the week, praying together, listening, laughter, vulnerability, and so on. We know we are winning in our Groups when people feel welcomed and are connecting in relationships. All of this lays a critical foundation for the rest of your success in Group. We can't grow spiritually unless we're connected relationally.
Routine can be good. Most of us wouldn't be able to maintain physical fitness without stability and predictability provided by habit. But routine can rob a group's time of creative energy and vitality. By injecting a little variety into the structure of your group's routine, you can keep things fresh.
Take a break from your curriculum/routine and spend time eating and growing spiritually. Following are a few ideas to bring freshness and variety for your group's spiritual growth this summer. These are very simple and give you the space to take them as deep as you want to.
We're all looking forward to warmer weather, but let's face it, leading a small group during the summertime can be tough. People are distracted by vacations, holidays, summer sports, and kids free from school. Many groups drop back to twice-a-month meetings. Some even meet only once each month for a little social interaction. The important thing to know is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for navigating the summer months. Instead, you'll need to communicate with your group members and be intentional about formulating a plan that works for you.
Welcome to 2014! I'm hoping that this year would be the best year ever for you and your entire Group. On Sundays we'll spend eight weeks looking to embrace specific values that give us all the ability to say, "Best Year Ever!" no matter what happens. I think we've all come to realize that great results are seldom caused by enormous efforts of sheer will. Rather, a series of values grafted into daily living become habitual in nature and are able to grow into incredible fruit of change.
While we'll cover eight of those values on Sundays, I'm excited for how in our Groups we can catch this vision together to experience the transformation together and live it out in 2014.
The way that you structure your first few meetings will set the tone for the rest of your group's life. Getting off to a slow start is a massive hindrance to success because relationships aren't well-formed, group becomes "difficult" for people to attend, and most won't see it as worth the trouble.
There are a few key principles to keep in mind as you launch your group. Whether that's a singles group, a couples group, or anything in between, keeping these in mind is important to your group's short-term and long-term success:
It is that time of the year when we begin thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas and how to extend care to those in need. Last year, I know a number of Groups who helped care for a number of families in need around the holidays. Already, I'm being asked, "are we going to do that again!?" Absolutely! Let's do it! "Where do we begin?" How about a conversation in your Group?
If you've been around Branches for any amount of time, you've probably heard someone else on talk about The Five Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith (We have this in our curriculum library!). If you're new to leadership and this is the first time you're hearing about the Five Things, rest assured that you'll hear more in the months and years to come.
We talk about life change all the time at Branches. Being a Group leader, it's your biggest goal for the people you lead. But what exactly is "life change"? How do you know it when you see it?
Leading a group can be one of the most challenging ways to grow our leadership. Here is an article I read that helped keep my leadership in perspective.
We have talked a lot about why having an apprentice matters. But how do you know which of your group members might make a good apprentice? It's important to remember that you're not looking for someone who can lead a group tomorrow. You're looking for a teachable group member who has the potential to be a great group leader in the future. Here are four qualities that will help you identify that kind of person.
There are a million good things we do with our time. You lead your weekly group meetings, meet with group members outside of group, and are involved in the personal communities where we find support and encouragement. All of these things are essential, but we also need to make time for apprenticing. It's worth the investment.
If you lead a Married Group, the men and women in your group may have different experience. Men can find it challenging to be real and authentic in a group environment.
So, what do you do to help cultivate relationships in the group? One approach is to split husbands and wives during group meetings for a few weeks. This will help the men to connect more closely with one another, and the women to do the same. As always, try to limit the studies to six weeks. Find a study that's even shorter than that, if you can. While there are benefits to splitting the group, you don't want to keep it split for too long.
Here are some approaches you can take.