5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Leading a Small Group

  • 15 September 2017
  • Keith Reed

Deep thoughtIt's hard to multiply small groups if you don’t have small group leaders. And when churches are flooded with people who want to join a group, the logical solution is to launch new groups—even if there isn't anyone to lead them. This is a "problem" well worth solving because groups carry the potential to be excellent incubators of spiritual growth. But it comes with two obvious challenges: 

1. How to find suitable leaders for new groups (most people don't want to lead small groups)  
2. How to train new leaders before their groups begin 

What should you do?

There are many ways to locate and discern new leaders (here are 10 strategies for recruiting volunteers), so I will focus here on the second challenge: how to train new leaders.

Leadership training is critical to ministry success and an effective way to equip new leaders is by sending them resources that they can access on their own time. Our small groups ministry page is designed with this in mind

However, there might be an occasion when there simply isn't enough time for new leaders to be trained before their first meeting. And even for those who have been adequately trained, the experience of leading a small group will prompt new experiences and questions. After all, no two groups are the same.   

I asked followers of our MinistryLift Facebook page to give their advice to first-time small group leaders. They delivered some wise comments that you can view here (please add to the ongoing conversation).

Here are 5 things I wish I knew before I led a small group for the first time: 

Personal Handpicked Provision

  • 13 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Many of us search for ways to better hear the voice of God's Spirit in our lives. It's no different if you are an experienced leader or a stay-at-home mom. That's been my experience as I look over the landscape of my prayer life as an experienced leader and as a stay-at-home mom. Recently I had opportunity to lead my daughter in hearing the counsel of God's Spirit. This is her story, my distraction, and our Father's faithful provision for both of us. 

It was Monday morning and my 12-year-old daughter awoke in tears. We had lots of Monday mornings all summer but this one was different. This was the Monday before the Friday she was scheduled to have surgery. Neither of us wanted this to happen, but the closer Friday came the sharper in focus was this reality. Those Monday morning tears now make perfect sense to me. 

I wanted to comfort her, but I felt my skills and resources were too limited. I wanted to whisk her away from all the turmoil maybe even more than she wanted to be delivered from the pending surgery. I knew this was a perfectly shaped set of circumstances for God's Spirit to speak to her in ways that only He knew how.

We took time to remind ourselves of some very important truths—Jesus is always with us, the Holy Spirit is our comfort and our counsel, and how wonderfully loved we are by our Heavenly Father. I didn't recognize it at the time, but these truths were for me too. From there I invited her to share her heart with Jesus—her fears, her disappointments, her questions—and invite Him to speak to her as she listened. This is what many call listening prayer. Whatever the label, I knew my daughter needed to hear for herself the words of life that only He authors.

We often do this listening and sharing on the "outside"—talking and responding to one another as we discern the Spirit's presence and counsel and then process the message together. Today, she would listen on the “inside”—just her and Jesus. This is a double-edged discipline for me. On the one hand, I'm free to patiently wait for the results of my daughter's listening. But on the other hand, I have no opportunity to be tracking the twists and turns. This was a faith exercise as much for me at it was for her.

Her inside listening lasted a long time. Longer than I was comfortable with. I thought maybe she had fallen back to sleep. But she was listening and God's Spirit was speaking. Finally, she shared with me. Mom, I have a thought. The nurse who was supposed to be in the ward to check me in won't be available and then (our good friend who is a nurse) would be there!

The Seven Core Values of Millennials

  • 7 September 2017
  • Geoff Kullman

Any missionary will tell you that in order to effectively speak Jesus into a culture, you first have to understand that culture. And the culture that millennials have grown up in has changed a lot, hasn't it? 

That's led to tons of churches, maybe one just like yours, that are struggling with young people leaving, frustrated that nothing they've tried has worked, and worried if their church can survive this trend.

That's why my team developed The Seven Core Values of Millennials training. Because we know that by helping you build a broader understanding of Millennials, you will be able to build better ministries for Millennials.

I'm going to present the Seven Core Values of Millennials at the Equip 2017 Study Conference, but I have chosen three values on focus on here. 

​Core Value #1 – Diversity

If you've been frustrated by any aspect of the millennial generation, particularly as a pastor or church leader, chances are it may have something to do with their mindset (or preference) for diversity.

But the reason for millennials valuing diversity is simple:

They are the first generation to come of age in a truly global world.  Whereas previous generations had limited (albeit expanding) access to information and opinion, millennials grew up with the Internet... limitless access to information and opinion.

(And for younger millennials... those in their late-teens to mid-twenties... they literally grew up with the Internet in their pockets!)

Unlike Builders, Boomers, or even Gen Xers, the millennial generation has never known a world limited to one single, trusted source of information. Instead, they have always been exposed to choice, relativity, variety, and globalization.

You can't blame a fish for living in water... even though it seems like a horribly silly idea to the rest of us! Neither can you (or should you) blame a millennial for seeing the world through a diverse, globalized lens.

It is literally the only environment they've EVER known!

In other words, understanding the core value of diversity begins with the recognition that we cannot assign a moral value to the lens through which people see the world. 

Core Value #2 - Entrepreneurship 

It may go against some of the (unfortunately pervasive) stereotypes about the millennial generation, but they are, without a shadow of a doubt, THE most entrepreneurial generation EVER!

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