With the dramatic growth of small group ministry in local churches, leaders are scrambling for insights that will help them improve every aspect of groups in their churches—from recruiting members to enhancing the teaching that takes place.
As a result, more and more resources are being developed for the purpose of helping small group leaders. One of these is ReGroup, a new DVD-based small group curriculum written by Henry Cloud, Bill Donahue and Dr. John Townsend, produced by Zondervan Publishing.
The ReGroup material contains some great tips for small groups. For example, the program offers a number of suggestions in the area of "Asking Good Questions." The authors note, "There are two types of questions you should ask during your group meetings. They are questions that: Discover more information (information exchange) and Explore experience (thoughts, feelings, etc.)."
The authors argue that such questioning is important because it:
• Helps you get to know the person;
• Shows interest in their life;
• Helps them tell their story;
• Provides dialogue;
• Helps the person understand themselves better.
There are various techniques for asking such questions. Here are some examples of asking questions that...Discover more information—the facts:
• Tell me more about that...
• Where did you grow up?
• Where do you work?Explore experience—thoughts and feelings:
• What did that feel like?
• How was your relationship with your parents?
• How did that relationship make you feel?
• What do you think about that?
• What was that like for you?
authors believe that during each small group meeting, it is useful to try asking at least one information-focused question and one experience-focused question. They note, "You can choose who you want to ask, but you don't have to ask the same person each type of question."
Another recently-published resource which contains some ideas for small groups is Fresh Ideas: 1,000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church
(B&H Publishing) by Diana Davis. In this book, the syndicated columnist and pastor's wife offers a variety of ideas gathered over the years, including one section on small groups.Among the tips she offers for small groups:
Always have an empty chair. "If all chairs are taken when guests arrive at your class, they do not feel welcomed. Always have extra chairs set up and ready for guests."
Use name tags every time. "Create permanent name tags for class members, using a typeface that is readable from several feet away. Name tags improve fellowship, promote accountability, and help new members quickly feel that they belong."
Plan to grow. "Did your Sunday School class or small group reproduce last year? Build multiplication into the DNA of your class. Make it a goal for every (group) to multiply at least annually. Talk about it. Plan it. Set a date."
Small groups can provide a valuable ministry.