by Steve Gladen
Without some guidance, groups can become unbalanced and focus only on fellowship. Help your groups become balanced and healthy by giving them a variety of suggestions on how they can balance the biblical purposes.
Fellowship – Take a break between studies and play a version of The Newlywed Game. Make up questions, get fun little prizes for the winning couple, and have fun! Here are some questions to get you started:
Wives: What is your husband’s favorite vacation spot? Where was your first meal together? What is one thing your husband did recently to make you feel special?
Husbands: What was the color of the outfit your wife wore yesterday? What would your wife say is your greatest area of growth in communicating – listening, talking, resolving, or all of the above? What would your wife consider more romantic – a picnic at the beach as the sun sets over the ocean; a candlelit dinner at home cooked by you, a surprise weekend getaway; or staying at home with you and ordering a pizza and watching a good video?
Bonus Question: Who’s the family expert at bodily noises, him or her?
Discipleship – As you meet week after week, celebrate and encourage a group member in whom you see spiritual growth. Pull that person aside after a group meeting and present him or her with a copy of The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Be sure to write a personal note of encouragement and affirmation inside the front cover (By the way, if you haven’t read this book yourself, it is a must read).
Ministry – At the close of a meeting, challenge our group to learn how to see people as Jesus sees them. Encourage members to look people in the eye this week and, as much as possible, every time they do so, to remind themselves that this person is created in the image of God and matters to God. Ask group members how they might honor and serve that person.
Evangelism – Give each member several 3×5 cards. Then ask group members to write (one per card) an overused or trite church word or phrase (salvation, fellowship, and share are examples). On the other side of the card, have the group members use different, plain-English, non-churchy terms to define these concepts. Practice talking about your faith to each other using these alternative words or phrases. You might consider implementing some kind of reward system to encourage members to avoid church chat (maybe a roll of Lifesavers would be appropriate!). The goal of this exercise is to help us develop vocabulary that clearly communicates to our unchurched friends.
Worship – In old westerns the sheriff tells the man in the black hat to drop his gun and get his hands up in an act of surrender. We Christians often worship God with our hands up; but surrendering your heart is where yielding to Jesus as Lord begins. Living for God is a daily question, “What helps you get to that place of surrendering all that you are to God?”
Steve Gladen is the Pastor of Small Group Community at Saddleback Church.
For more tips like these, read 250 Big Ideas for Purpose Driven Small Groups.