by Steve Gladen
As the New Year begins, help groups get on track by offering them some suggestions for health and balance.
Fellowship – Bring out all the spices from the kitchen and place them on a table in the center of the group. Begin your group time by asking members, “Which one of these spices best represents you tonight – and why?” Be ready to get the discussion going by answering this questions yourself.
Discipleship – At the beginning of the year, challenge every member to do a personal retreat, to set aside time (either a few hours or an entire day) for prayer and reflection. Encourage group members to first spend time thinking about the past few months: What has God been teaching them? What struggles have they faced? What prayers has God answered? Then have members spend time praying for God’s direction and thinking about what he might be wanting them to do in the next few months. Out of this personal retreat should come some personal direction and goals for the coming months. Finally, ask members to let the group know when they plan to do their personal retreat. Have members write down these dates so they can hold one another accountable and pray for one another on those retreat days.
Ministry – Read the story in Mark 2:1-5 about the men who lowered their friend through the roof in order to get him to Jesus. Put a mat or towel in the middle of the circle. Ask anyone who has a need to kneel on the mat so that other group members can pray for him or her. In this way you can symbolically carry your friends to the feet of Jesus to receive healing and hope.
Evangelism – If your group is especially focused on evangelism, take time off from Bible study and instead take a self-study course in English as a second language. This is an excellent way to prepare to meet a real need, to build relationships with nonbeliever, and to eventually have an opportunity to share the gospel with people from another culture.
Worship – Find out what your pastor or the person in charge of small groups likes to eat. What snacks, junk food, fast food, or sodas are personal favorites? Ask each person in your group to pick up one of these treats or a gift certificate and bring it to the next meeting. Plan surprise deliveries of the goodies so that the recipient gets an anonymous gift each day for a week or so from a caring small group that is praying for church leaders.
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.