Session 2: How to Launch a Small Group
Getting Started as a Small Group Leader
It can be daunting to start a small group! In this session, Chip outlines several ideas for approaching others and inviting them to your small group. You can do this!
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At Living on the Edge, we believe with all of our heart that life change happens in community, that the goal of the Christian life is not to go to meetings and even hear great messages, or sing some great songs, or even be a little bit more moral. We believe there’s a revolution that happens in a person’s soul and that the Spirit of God takes up residence in us, and God wants to transform us as we come before God, do life in community and get on mission. He actually wants to transform us. The place that happens is in community. The real container of authentic community is a small group.
When Jesus came to change the world, what did he do? He developed a small group. When the early church began to grow they met from house to house. All through church history, and if you meet anyone whose life has been dramatically changed, you know it may be formal, it could’ve been informal, but I will tell you there was a smaller group of people where they shared their heart, they were in God’s word, they prayed fervently, they held each other accountable and they really cared for one another. I will often say “Start a small group, you can do it, get out there, start a small group.”
Then I get these letters. Then I get these emails. It’s like “I’ve never done that. I don’t see myself as a leader. How?” How do you launch a small group? What I want to do is I want to walk through, I think it’s really a pretty simple and easy way to launch a small group. There’s four steps. Are you ready?
Step number one is you have to recruit a group. Right? This is where I think people get stuck. “Well, who am I going to ask? What am I going to do? They’ll probably say no.” Right? I get all that. Let me ask you first, are you married or do you have any roommates? Okay. That’s not a really hard question. Have you got it? Guess what. If you’re married, you have a group. If you’re married and you have some kids, you have a group. In other words, sometimes we think of a small group, it’s out there or it’s at church. I meet men and women all the time whose lives are busy, and they want to have positive and powerful family devotions, and develop their children, and their life, and their marriage. It’s amazing, you could take small group resources and meet once or twice a week and make that your first small group.
Some of you are already in a small group. Really what you want to do is you want to launch a group out of your current group. Once a group gets eight, ten, 12 people, there’s not enough time for people to talk and to share and to really develop. You may watch a video together, but now it’s time to break into two small groups. We call it sub grouping. You know, when you have a group of four or five over here, or four or five over here, one you develop a new leader. The neat part is now you really have time to share.
I understand, you know, we all want to be together. I want to encourage you that the goal is to make disciples but be reproducers and be disciple makers. The third and easy way, I think, is often with friends. It might be a group of guys, or it might be some other couples, or it might be some women that you work out with, or some people that you find yourself, you’re at the coffee shop. Everyone is waiting for that one person to take initiative.
Here’s the next step. You want to say to yourself, “Okay. I believe God wants to use me. I really care about some people. I want to launch a small group. It could be my family, it could be in my church, it could be with some friends, it could be with some people at work.” How do you do it? You just need to make an invitation. You need to think to yourself and say, Lord, you know what … I work. I’ve got a friend who did this. He said, “You know, I work at a high tech company. I know there’s a handful of Christians. We all feel very alone.” In a very low key way he said, “From 12:00 to 1:00 we’re going to do a little Bible study and we’re going to call it Balancing Life’s Demands. It’s all about work/life balance.” He sent out a little email, invited one or two friends that he already knew.
Then here’s the key, when you invite people you tell them “This is what we’re going to study. This is who is coming. This is why we’re going to do it. This is how long it’s going to go.” Okay, did you get that? Okay. Let’s pretend it’s a different group. I’ve done this with neighbors. Who it is is, I have some young couples in our neighborhood. One of them came to know the Lord and they had two or three friends that didn’t know the Lord. Great people, and they wanted to share their story. They were a little afraid to be too religious. Who do we want? We want these young couples with young kids. What are we going to study? We have a series called God’s Dream For Your Marriage. We have another one on parenting. What do we tell them? For eight weeks, once a week in Bob’s home we’re going to meet and talk about marriage and parenting. Would you like to come?
Now, are you ready for this? They were so nervous and we prayed about it. “Now, Chip, you know, you’re going to lead the study but you’re not going to be too preachy.” I say, “Relax, okay? We’re going to use this resource.” Every single couple said yes, except one, and they were convinced in their heart that probably no one would come. People are longing for one person to take initiative.
First is you recruit the group, second you invite them. Then create a safe environment. We have lots of resources. You’ll learn from my teammate Matt about how to actually do some of this. You just want a place where, a safe environment whether it’s a conference room at work, or whether it’s a home. I actually have a friend who has taken a series that we’ve done on parenting and he goes to a community center. He invites the people in the community and he tells them, “Now, we talk about God in this series, but we know that all of you have concerns about your parenting.” He just shows the video and does Q and A afterwards. It’s creating a safe environment where people know nothing is going to get pushed on them. They know how long it’s going to be.
Having a little bit of food or maybe some drinks, something light, but what you want to do is create an environment where people walk in and know that this is a safe place where they’re going to be heard and where they can learn. You know, you don’t need to be a theologian. You don’t need to be a spiritual giant. The fourth step is the one that I think holds people back. You do have to face your fears. I meet people all the time who say, “I want to. I want to. I want to.” I have a stack of emails like this of people who’ve written me and said, “I never saw myself doing that. I heard what you said. I jumped into the deep end of the pool. I invited three ladies from church. We met in my home.” Then the next two pages are about the amazing thing God did because one person didn’t let their fear keep them from taking a step and inviting.
You know, all of us need coaches. I’ll never forget times where someone has put their arm around me and believed in me in a way that I didn’t believe in myself and said, “Chip, you can do this, just trust God.” I want you to know that if you’re thinking about launching a group and you’re fearful and don’t know what to do, these four steps, they’re really not rocket science. By the grace of God, he’s already prepared people that he wants to be in your group. Are you ready? I want you to give it a whirl.
In our next session, Matt McGill, my teammate, is really going to start helping you with some very practical ways about how to become a great small group leader.