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Small Group Ministry

 Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry

 

Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways

 

Introduction

 

Why Small Groups

1. Biblical Base

A. Old Testament

 

Assignment:

Read Exodus 18:13-26.  Write some things that you learn about the value of small groups from this passage.  Be prepared to share some with the class when you have finished:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. Jesus

Jesus' pattern of ministry included ministering both to large crowds and in a small group.  Both were very important in His overall mission.

 

1. Ministered to large crowds.

Jesus preached to large crowds throughout Galilee and Judea.

 

2. Small Group

Jesus spent more time ministering to a smaller group of His followers – especially the twelve apostles.  Much of Jesus' teaching that we have recorded in the Bible was given to just a small group of people (see for example Matthew 24-25; John 13-17).

 

C. The early Church

The apostles seem to have continued with Jesus' pattern of ministering both in large crowds and small groups.

 

1. Large crowds – Acts 2:14-41;  3:11-26;  5:12-16; 17:16-34

These are just a few examples.  There are many times when the apostles preached to large gatherings of people.

 

2. Small groups – Acts 2:46

a. Acts 2:46:  In this passage, we see that the believers were meeting both in the temple (probably a larger group) and in their homes (probably a small group).

 

b. In addition to this, the epistles speak of churches meeting in homes (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19;  Col 4:15;  Philemon 2).  In fact, this seems to have become the most common type of meeting within a short time. The church more often met in small groups in the homes of believers than in big gatherings.  It was centuries before Christians had buildings called churches where they could meet in big numbers.

 

2. Advantages

A. Allow more possibilities for people to minister

Only a few people can minister in your main church services.  However, the Bible calls on each believer to be a minister.  Small groups provide great opportunities for the Body of Christ to be blessed by people's gifts in different ways.

 

B. Provide greater pastoral care for believers

The pastor cannot give all the counsel and attention that each person in the congregation needs.  Small group leaders can do this.  They can visit the sick or discouraged.  They can give counsel (and only refer some cases to the pastor).  They can contact a person who misses a week or two.  They can pray for each person.  When people receive this kind of care, they become much more committed to the church, and much more likely to bring others to Christ.

 

C. Reaching the lost

Many unbelievers will come to a neighbor's home for a small group meeting, but would never go to a church building.

 

D. Follow-up

Small groups are very good at following up people who make commitments to the Lord.  A small group leader can easily visit people in his community, and invite them to his home group.

 

E. Relationships

The church is meant to be the 'body of Christ' and the 'family of God.'  However, in many cases we do not even know each other very well.  Small groups help us to get to know others in our church.  These relationships help us to become more like Christ.

 

F. Others

These are just a few advantages of small group ministry.  Can you think of some more?

 

3. Theme for Small Groups – 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Read and study this verse.  Small groups are about experiencing life together as the family of God.  They help us to go beyond preaching to someone, or "ministering to" someone.  They demand that we share our lives together.  This is not easy, but in it we see great opportunities for personal growth in Christ, and for the Kingdom of God being expanded in our area.

 

Discussion Groups:

-       Do you believe small groups can be a good ministry in your church?  Why or why not?

 

-       What are some things that would make for a good small group ministry?  Describe how these groups would work.  Discuss what you think is important in order for small groups to bear fruit.

 

Two Approaches to Small Group Ministry

Small groups can be a very powerful way of building a healthy church.  There are different ways that small groups can be used.  The way you do small groups depends on the purpose you have for them, and how they relate to other ministries in your church.  In this course, we are going to discuss two different approaches to small group ministry.

 

1. Small Groups as one ministry within a Church

The first approach is using small groups as one ministry of the church.  In this method, you will have various types of ministries, each fulfilling a specific purpose of the church. See the course GROWING A HEALTHY CHURCH for more about this idea.  In that course and in other places, we  have identified four pillars of a healthy church, or four purposes.  They are:

- evangelism

- worship

- fellowship

- discipleship

 

Knowing these purposes, along with the foundation of prayer, it is good for churches to plan out how each purpose will be fulfilled.  In other words, what will you do to evangelize, to worship, to have fellowship, to make disciples, and to be sure people are praying?  Small groups can be part of this plan.  Choose which one or two purposes will be fulfilled in the small group.  You may decide on fellowship and evangelism, or fellowship and discipleship, or some other way.  Whatever you choose, focus your group on that purpose.  If you are having small groups for evangelism, do not have in depth Bible studies or long worship times.  These things will be accomplished through other ministries in your church.  Focus on one or two things.

 

2. A Church of small groups

The second approach is to seek to meet all the purposes through small groups.  This becomes the main ministry focus of the church, and other activities (such as Sunday service, Bible study, prayer meetings, etc.) are either completely stopped, or they are given a smaller role.  Many churches have had much success with this approach.  However, it is very important that you discipline yourself to not allow other ministries to compete with small groups.  For this to work, the entire church (beginning with the pastor) must focus on small groups.

 

In the next sections, we will look more closely at each of these two approaches, beginning with the first one:  having small groups as one ministry of your church...

 

Small Groups as Part of a Church

Every church should probably have some kind of small group ministry.  We have already discussed some advantages of this.  However, you may not feel that the Lord is leading you to become a church of small groups.  Perhaps your other programs and ministries are doing well, and you do not feel you should replace them.  In such a case, your church can still have small groups, but they will just be one of several ministries and programs.

 

1. Fulfilling a Purpose

The best way to use small groups as part of your church's ministry is to first determine what purpose the groups will fulfill.  Consider among the following possibilities:

 

A. Evangelism

The focus of your groups will be to introduce the lost to Christ.  Plan everything about the groups with this in mind.  For example:

 

1. The leader should be one who has a heart for the lost.  He should love unbelievers and be able to relate well with them

 

2. What you do – plan the small groups meetings with unsaved people in mind.  Have a short Bible teaching which can relate to them.  Have time for informal discussion, questions, or simple fellowship.  Show guests that you care about them and love them, and that they are important.  You may want to avoid the following:

a. long times of intercession or deliverance

 

b. in-depth Bible studies

 

c. asking the guest to pray or read the Bible aloud

 

d. asking for money (or make sure you do not expect the guest to give)

 

e. fellowshipping only with the people you know

 

3. In the days following the meeting, go to the homes of any visitors who came, and encourage them more in the Lord.

 

4. Any other ideas that will help people to get saved through the small group

 

B. Fellowship

The focus of the group is for the members of the Body to minister to one another, and to build meaningful relationships.  Plan your groups according to this.  Here are some ideas:

 

1. Be sure to have plenty of time for informal visiting together during the meeting

 

2. Plan social activities with your group at other times than your usual meeting each week

 

3. Teach about spiritual gifts and the body of Christ, and encourage people to develop their gifts and abilities.  Have different people teach, lead worship, pray, etc.  Help people to discover what God is calling them to do in His Kingdom.

 

4. You may want to serve tea, or even enjoy a meal together sometimes.  You may not be able to do this every week, but it helps to do it at least from time to time.

 

5. Give short, practical teachings from the Bible.  Encourage people to respond and discuss how the Word impacts them.  Ask questions that get people opening up and talking about their lives; their struggles and victories and even defeats.

 

6. Any other ideas that will help people to connect with one another and use their gifts for the benefit of the church

 

C. Worship

The focus of the group is to worship the Lord; to spend time in His presence honoring Him and enjoying Him.  It is also a time of personal consecration and commitment before Him.  Possible suggestions for such a group could be:

 

1. Spend a lot of the meeting in worship and prayer.

 

2. Give short teachings that inspire people to give themselves wholly to the Lord, and to live as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). Give additional time for people to respond to the message through prayer and / or worship.

 

3. Provide an atmosphere that will help the worship – a quiet area, few distractions, etc. 

 

4. Encourage people to listen for what the Lord is saying, and to share that with the group.  The group can together discern if this truly is the Holy Spirit speaking.

 

5. Any other ideas that will help people to have encounters with the Lord in the small group.

 

D. Discipleship

The focus of this group is to help people become more like Jesus.  It is for serious and committed followers of Christ.  Here are some suggestions:

 

1. The leader should be someone with a pastoral and /or teaching gift.  He has a love for people, and is good at helping them to develop in their faith.

 

2. Have good, biblical teachings that are practical and challenging.

 

3. Encourage accountability by openly sharing your lives

 

4. The leaders should seek to build relationships with group members outside of the group meetings.  Have spiritual conversations with them to see how they are doing, and to help them along.  Seek to be mentors.

 

5. Other ideas that will help people in the group to mature

 

Assignment:

Think about your church.  If you were to begin a small group ministry (as one ministry within the church), which purpose or purposes would you seek to fulfill with the groups? How would you do this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Part of an Overall Plan

The small group is just one ministry in the church, so know where it fits in the overall plan.

 

A. If people only come to one or two events during the week (Sunday service, small group, Bible study, overnight, outreach, prayer meeting, women's meeting,...), what should they be? 

 

B. Who should come to small groups?  The very committed?  The seekers who are not even saved yet?  Everyone?

 

C. How will you encourage the people you expect to participate to actually show up?  Are these same people feeling pressured to be at every other meeting as well?

 

Class Discussion:

- Share a testimony of how being part of a small group has helped you in your walk with Christ or in your ministry.
 

- Have you ever been part of a small group ministry that did not seem to be working well?  Why do you think it did not work?  What could have been done to improve it?

 

Church of Small Groups

With this approach, your church life and ministry will center around small groups.  Everything you do as a church will be done through these groups.

 

1. What it Means

A. Fulfill all four purposes within small groups

 

B. Emphasize small group meetings as the main event of the church week

 

C. All other ministries (or certainly most of them) will be run through small groups

 

D. Pastor must lead this personally

 

E. The goal is growth – both in numbers and in maturity

 

2. Beginning Small Group Ministry

A. Pastor must be the leader

1. Put all your influence, time, and energy into making it work

 

2. Spend personal time with cell leaders often.  This is very important.

 

B. Begin small – not everyone will want to be part of this at first.

 

C. Select the right leaders

1. Spirit-filled – this does not simply mean 'speaks in tongues.'  Choose one who depends on the Holy Spirit and who knows how to follow the Spirit.

2. Enthusiasm – the leader needs to be excited about this ministry

 

3. Testimony – has a good testimony within the church and in the community

 

4. Dedication – is loyal to you and to the church.  Completely committed to Jesus as Lord

 

D. Train leaders

1. Begin with leading a small group of people who will become the small group leaders. This way they will be able to see how you lead the group, and will learn from your example.  During this time, be teaching them the principles they will need in order to lead groups of their own.

 

2. Have ongoing times of special training – such as a retreat once or twice a year.  Let the leaders know that equipping them is a big priority for you and for the church.

 

E. After running this group for 6-8 months, form other groups, allowing some that you have been working with to be the leaders.

 

 

3. Leadership

A. Continually find ways to motivate leaders.  This is one of the most important parts of a successful small group ministry.  If leaders do not stay motivated to serve, the groups will not succeed.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Recognition – show that the leaders are important.  Some ideas:

a. give letters / certificates each year to show they are commissioned small group leaders

 

b. Write letters recognizing a special achievement or job well done (for example, the group grew and divided according to its goal).

 

c. Give public recognition often to group leaders in Sunday services or other public meetings

 

2. Praise them – show appreciation

Praise anytime someone does a good job.  Without this appreciation, they will not stay motivated over a long period of time.

 

3. Love

a. show love by the expression of your face and the tone of your voice when you see them – be genuinely happy to see them

 

b. show love by giving them your time

 

c. show love by demonstrating interest in their lives

 

d. show love by helping them in any way you can – both in their ministry as a small group leader, and in their lives

 

B. Raising up new leaders

Raising up new leaders is a big job, and a very important one for this ministry.  You can only have as many groups as you have leaders.

 

1. See every person as a minister.  One reason that cell churches do not succeed is because pastors are unwilling to truly release people into ministry.  They say they do it, but in reality they do not give up ministries for others to do.

 

2. Others may not be able to do as well as the pastor. That is fine:

a. give them some training before they begin

b. give them continual training and feedback as they minister

c. trust the work of the Holy Spirit in them and through them

 

3. Continually pray for new leaders – Matthew 9:37-38.  Allow God to show you potential leaders.

 

4. Involve them – give them a job and watch how they perform.  Give jobs before giving titles!!

 

5. Test faithfulness over time

 

6. Consult with others – Prov 11:14. Sometimes you as the pastor cannot see the whole picture.  Ask others what they think of a certain person as a leader.

 

7. Recruit new leader – meet with him personally, and ask him or her to pray about an assignment.  Do not dictate to him, but allow him to take time to hear form the Lord. 

 

8. Let the new leader serve as an assistant leader for 6-8 months.   During this time, increasingly give more and more responsibility, until he is able to lead a group himself.

 

Prayer Time

Spend some time praying for a small group ministry in your church.  Pray for the Lord to lead the pastors in how to develop this.  Pray for leaders to be raised up.

 

C. Needed in leaders

1. Maturity

Small group leaders will face many challenging situations.  They may need to settle a conflict, minister deliverance, correct a group member, keep the discussion focused, etc.  They will also need to develop other leaders, provide godly leadership and counsel, and look after the spiritual needs of the group.  A person of spiritual maturity is needed for such a position.

 

2. Servanthood

a. Jesus repeatedly placed before his followers the concept of leaders who serve.  He both taught and modeled this idea.  He said of Himself that He came to serve and not to be served. 

 

b. One of the good things about a small group is that there are so many opportunities for mutual service.  There are chairs to carry and babies to hold.  There are sick people to visit and the bereaved to comfort.  The leader does not have to do it all.  He cannot do it all.  He must not do it all.  But he sets the pattern.

 

c. From welcoming people as they come to being obedient to the guidelines given him by his church, the small group leader leads his group into growth by serving.

 

3. God's Love

The leader who is going to love his people with God's love must be very dependent upon God's Spirit.  It is the Spirit of God who will keep the leader creative, flexible, accepting.  Only God's Spirit will be able to keep him from despair.

 

a. Some people in the group will not be easy to love

 

b. Sometimes the leader will need to make sacrifices in time, effort, finances, etc. for group members.

 

4. Training

Leaders need to learn leadership skills.  Leaders deserve to be trained.  This is a responsibility that the church may wish to undertake.

 

5. Who is the Leader?

The leaders may be a couple.  The leaders may be a team.  There may be a host family and a teaching person or couple.  A typical pattern would be for the group to have one person or couple in whom the leadership would reside.  But as gifts and growth among the members are discovered and nurtured, the weight of leadership is often shared.

 

D. Cell leader as pastor

The role of a cell leader is to pastor those in his group.  You may not choose to call him 'pastor,' but you must understand that this is his role.  As such, the leader must do the following:

 

1. care for the sheep – Acts 20:28-29.  Visit them between meetings.

 

2. know the sheep – John 10:14-15.  Spend personal time with each person in the group (you can spend time with couples together, and be careful about spending time with the opposite sex.  It is best to do so with your spouse, or have an assistant leader do it).

 

3. seek the straying – Lk 15:4.  Check on members who miss even one meeting.  Go in a gentle and loving way, not accusing or pressuring.

 

4. feed the sheep – Ps 23:1-3.  Teach the Word and apply it

 

5. watch out for sheep –  Eph 6:12;  1 Peter 5:8-9;  Acts 20:28-31. Guard them from attacks that may come from outside, or even from within the group.

 

4. Multiply and Dividing Groups – different ways

Growth in this ministry happens by groups adding new members and dividing into new groups.  Once a small group has 10 – 15 consistent members, it is probably best to divide into two groups.  This will help the groups to continue growing.  There are different ways to divide a group.  Here are some possibilities:

 

A. Planting

1. In this method, either the leader or the assistant leader leaves the group to plant another group.  He may go with one or two other people, but most of the group stays together as before.  They encourage and assist the new group any way that they can.

 

2. The leader of the new group is responsible to recruit new members for his group.  He does not get people to come from other groups, or from other churches.  His focus is on getting unsaved people into his group.  Then he shares the Gospel with them and disciples them.

 

3. The new group raises up an assistant leader, so that within 6 – 12 months, they are able to plant another group again.

 

4. This method works very well when you have a leader or assistant who is very good at beginning things, and at winning the lost.  One person may have the ministry of beginning new groups.  He begins as the leader, grows the group, raises up an assistant, and then branches off to plant a new group.  Meanwhile the assistant continues discipling the original group.

 

 

B. Dividing

1. In this method, the group simply divides in half.  The leader remains with half, and the assistant leader becomes the leader of the other half.

 

2. Both groups begin the process again of getting new members (people who are not saved).

 

3. Both groups appoint and raise up new assistant leaders.

 

4. Both groups seek to divide again within a certain period of time.

 

Class Discussion:

-       Which of the two approaches to small groups do you think would be best for your church?  Why?

 

-       How could you develop this ministry in your church?

 

5. Growth Through Groups

How can your small groups add new members, so that they will eventually be able to divide or plant new groups?  Here are some suggestions:

 

A. "Holy eavesdropping"

Encourage group members to be looking for people in their communities who are having some kind of trouble.  Then ask the Holy Spirit, "is there some way that I (or my small group) can help?  Is there some way I can introduce this person to Jesus?"

 

B. Follow up on visitors to the group

 

C. Set goals for growth

1. Make a goal such as this – each small group should win ___ families to Christ this year (it could be 1 or 5 – pray and see how the Spirit leads you).

 

2. Another type of goal is like this:  Each group should seek to divide after 12 months

 

D. Continually exhort members to invite others to come

Help them to identify people within their own lives that they can invite – family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc.

 

E. Have other events where you spend time together outside of the cell meeting.  Sometimes these are easier gatherings to invite people to.

 

F. Discipline meetings to be good places for people to come and get saved. 

This may seem difficult, because you are also seeking to pray, worship, fellowship, and disciple people through the small groups.  However, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can do it.  Here are some suggestions:

 

1. Teach to all kinds of people – from the unsaved to the mature believer.  A good way of doing this may be to teach through a book of the Bible.  In any case, show how the scriptures are relevant to areas of concern that people may have.

 

2. Have time for informal fellowship.  During these times, the leader should be sure that someone is spending time with any unbeliever who has come, and lovingly sharing the Gospel with them.

 

3. In praying for people, when you know it may take time, do it after the meeting is over.  This way others can be free to fellowship together or leave.

 

4. Always think about guests and unbelievers as you plan the meeting.  Try not to make them feel uncomfortable.  Think of how they can be made to both enjoy the time and be challenged by it.

 

G. Develop leaders

Groups cannot grow and divide if there are no other leaders to take on the new group.  One of the primary jobs of every small group leader is to train up and develop other leaders.  This is a continual process, and never stops.

 

H. Personal life of leader

The spiritual life of the leader himself will be a big factor in whether or not the group grows. Emphasize the following:

 

1. Leader's devotional life – Mk 1:35;  Lk 5:16

 

2. intercession for members and visitors – leader must pray for those who come to his group.  Often and fervently.

 

3. pastoral care – if the leader provides good pastoral care (counseling, encouraging, comforting, challenging,...) with his group members, they will be more likely to bring others to the group.  Providing good pastoral care means spending time with members outside of the weekly meeting, and talking to them openly and personally about spiritual things.

 

Making Your Small Group Work

 

Many churches have tried small group ministry, but have found it not to work.  In addition to what we have already discussed, this section gives some general ideas about how to help small groups to bear fruit.  This information can be helpful whether your small groups are one ministry of the church, or if you are becoming a church of small groups.

 

  Pattern For Small Groups -- 1 Pet 4:7-11

 

Peter was writing to members of the young Christian church.  They were experiencing many difficulties from forces outside and inside their church.  In this short passage of his letter, Peter seems to concentrate on personal relationships within the church, as he gives them very practical counsel on their attitudes and conduct.  It is helpful to remember that he was addressing people who were meeting in homes.

 

1. Be "clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."

A. As a group is maturing, people can begin to share their problems there.

Perhaps someone is having difficulty thinking through a decision.  His mind seems not to be functioning clearly.  People may come who have just lost a loved one, or who are having financial difficulties.

 

B. Another common category of need that will be shared in a group in the process of building trust is the need for self-control.

At last, here is a place where people may dare to admit that they have a sharp tongue, or that they have a problem with lust or anger.  A small group is a place where people can find prayer help for many, many needs, among them being the need for clear minds and self-control.

 

2. Above All: Love

A. Small groups can help us to truly 'love the sinner but hate the sin.'

Once, in the beginning year of our group, we all became aware that a faithful attender had a drinking problem.  We could smell the alcohol and hear the liquor's effect on the man's speech, week after week.  Nothing was said. 

 

Several months later, as the Bible study was about to begin one evening, the man interrupted, "Before we begin, I have a question to ask.  Has someone been praying about my drinking?"  We all stared at him, stunned.  One by one we admitted we had been praying about his drinking.  But none of us had discussed it with anyone else in the group.  As we stared at him, wondering what was coming, his face suddenly relaxed into a beautiful grin.  "I have quit drinking."  The room exploded in joy.

 

It was our first big adventure in stretching our love to cover someone's sins in prayer and in discretion.  We learned that God's Spirit commands us not only to love each other as we are today, but also to pray for one another's self-control, wisdom, and other needs, and to cover one another's weak areas and sin areas with love.  We have a standing rule that nothing that is discussed in our group is ever to be mentioned outside the group.

 

B. In an atmosphere of love and acceptance, small groups are a great source of accountability.

 

C. In loving small groups, people can be open about their sins, 'walk in the light,' and overcome.  See 1 John 1:5-7 and Jam 5:16.

 

3. Hospitality

A. Small groups require the weekly practice of hospitality.

Hospitality, as a practical expression of stretching love, produces the climate in which spiritual growth can happen.  The welcome at the door, the preparations for the comfort of the people throughout the evening, the warm good-byes all help to provide an inviting atmosphere.

 

B. We must exercise this ministry "without grumbling."  We should offer hospitality to one another wholeheartedly.

 

4. Gifts are for Sharing

A. One of the greatest potentials in a neighborhood group is realized when it acts as fertile ground in which the explanation, discovery, training, growth, and use of spiritual gifts can take place.

 

B. As we discover our gifts and use them to serve each other, we also learn to face the fact that we, personally, do not have some gifts.  Some of us cannot sing; some cannot teach.  We are learning the truth of what Paul wrote:

Now the body is not made up of one part but many.  If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,  it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body...  As it is, there are many parts but one body -- 1 Cor 12:14-15, 20.

 

C. Small groups are a good place for people to develop their gifts

1. They are safe.  You do not have to be concerned about making a mistake, as everyone in the group knows you and accepts you.

 

2. It is easier to give individualized training in the use of a gift to someone in a small group.

 

3. There are opportunities for more people to minister in small groups.  Only a few can use their gifts in a main church service.

 

4. Small groups help to identify potential and callings in people.

 

Discussion Groups:

From what we have discussed to far about small groups, how would you compare this information with what your church is presently doing?  Are there some changes you would like to make based on what we have studied?  What do you see that you are doing well?

 

Prayer In Small Groups

1. Praying Together

God does great things when believers pray, and members of your group want to experience that together.   Prayer reflects overall Christian maturity.  In the beginning, each group is a baby group. As it grows in its overall life, its prayer will grow in reality, content, and intimacy. Growth takes time.

 

2. Getting Started

A. For several weeks after our group began meeting, the leaders did the praying.  We began and ended our evenings with short prayers, asking God to be among us as Teacher, and commending the group members to him.  We tried not to use a special vocabulary and tone of voice, desiring simply to talk with our Father.

 

B. In a very few weeks we sought ways to involve more people.

One evening, we asked everyone to find a little piece of paper, and on that to write a need.  Folded and anonymous, the scraps formed a little pile in the middle of the floor.  Then anyone who would commit himself to praying daily that week for a need was invited to pick up a note and take it home.

 

One member picked up one note and read: "I want to have a baby."  He prayed over this each morning.  Several months later, a woman in the group asked who had gotten the prayer request about the baby.  For a long time she and her husband had wanted a child, and were discouraged.  But now she discovered that she was pregnant!

 

C. Ask several people sitting next to one another to pray together over something specific.  This is great for new believers who are just learning to pray in public.

 

D. Pray over and work at creating a tender environment for prayer.  Desire that this would be a setting in which people would feel open and quite secure.

 

3. Continuing

A. Pray for each other each week.  It is good to take prayer requests, and to spend time interceding for these needs.  Sometimes you may pray for a short time with one person leading, while at other times you will want to spend an extended period of time in prayer together.

 

B. Form the habit of praying for one another throughout the week

 

4. What about Answers?

A. We have seen God answer our requests with a clear "no." When that has happened, the group has made a small protected place in which the pain of that answer and the move toward accepting it are shared.  Face to face in a living-room, one sees one's own sorrow mirrored on a circle of other faces.  The hands reaching out, the murmured prayers -- how healing they are!

 

B. At other times, we have the joy of seeing God give what we ask for, even in miraculous ways.  It is important to share these praise reports with the group, as it encourages and builds faith.

 

5. 'Hot Seat' praying

This is having one member sit in the center of the room, while the others lay hands on him and pray.  Different people may pray out as they are led.

 

A. Makes the person feel the love and care of the group, as different people pray out for him

 

B. There is power in the laying on of hands.

1. Serves as a way of transferring God's power

2. Physical touch is a demonstration of needed personal relationship

 

C. Often times this will lead to prophetic prayer for the person

This is simply God leading group members in how to pray in an especially helpful way.  They begin to pray things that are beyond their own knowledge and understanding, but it serves as a wonderful encouragement for the person being prayed for.  At times God will give a message to be spoken out to the person.  This can be a time of tender and powerful ministry from the Lord.

 

D. This is a prayer of agreement for the blessing of the individual, and it is very powerful

 

6. Summarizing, and Adding to the List

A. Talk to God simply.

B. Be tender with people

C. Be creative as you seek to help people learn to pray.

D. Make a habit to thank God for answered prayer.

E. Begin to pray for needs throughout the week.

F. Be sensitive to the time spent in prayer.

G. Try the 'hot seat' from time to time

H. Do not discuss outside what is talked about inside the group.

I. Leaders: be willing to ask for prayer for yourselves.

 

Ministering as a Small Group

1. Outreach

Small groups make very good ministry teams.  Organize outreaches together such as hospital or prison ministry, door-to-door evangelism, going on a mission to help a village church, etc...

 

2. Follow-up

A. Give small groups the assignment of following up people who come to Christ in the church's evangelism program, or in city-wide crusades.  When someone from their own community reaches out to them, it is easier for a new convert to become an active member in the church.

 

B. Keep track of your members.  When someone does not come for a week or two, someone should go to see him.  Maybe he is having a problem, or he has sinned and is running from the Lord, or maybe he just did not feel he was needed there.  A caring visit from a group member can be very encouraging.

 

C. Assign small groups to visit people who visit the church, and who live in the area.

 

3. Experience life together

A. Visit the sick, attend funerals, celebrate graduations,... together.  Small groups help us to foster the growth of true Christian community.  Be the body of Christ, the family of God.

 

B. Bear one another's burdens.  Pray for one another, share material goods when needed, serve one another,...

 

4. Be an extension of pastoral care

A. A pastor cannot be aware of everything that is going on in the lives of every person

 

B. Small groups help church members to not get 'lost.'

 

C. When a need arises that the pastor should know about, the small group leader can speak to him.

 

D. The small group can lift some of the pastor's burden by handling some things themselves.  Some counseling can be done by group members, as well as praying for people.  They can also be more faithful at visiting the sick, doing follow-up, and attending various functions than the pastor can -- especially as the church grows.

 

E. Look for people with ministry gifts.  In a small group you may discover a good worship leader, a wise counselor, someone with the gift of service, a good teacher, someone who is a strong leader,...

 

Assignment

 

Write a plan for how you can develop a small group ministry in your church.  In your plan, you should include the following:

 

·       which of the two approaches to small group ministry will you take, and why
 

·       If the first one, which purpose(s) will you seek to fulfill, and how will you do that?  If the second approach, how will you fulfill each of the four purposes?
 

·       How will you add more groups?
 

·       How will you recruit and develop leaders?
 

·       What will the small groups do in their meetings?
 

·       Anything else that you see as important for having a strong and fruitful small group ministry