Ep. 447 How to Have a Dynamic Small Group Experience

Ep. 18 How to Have a Dynamic Small Group Experience

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Shows Main Idea – What are some of the core elements of building a vibrant small group life? Is it best to have mixed small groups or gender-specific groups? What are a few other things that make up a small group experience where folks genuinely pursue each other with truth and love for each other’s sanctification? This episode delves into small group life, answering this lady’s question plus aiding group leaders and members to serve each other effectively.

Show Notes

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Supporting Member: We have visited several churches that have small groups. Each has a form to express interest, and they ask you to provide your age group. Every church I’ve ever been to wants small groups according to age. Am I the only one who is confused by this? What is the effectiveness of this method? I’m not sure if they do this because it is an easy way to group people or because it is the best way. Maybe I am not seeing this correctly, and someone could enlighten me. My husband and I attended a small group where members were of various ages and stages of life. There were grandparents, empty nesters, high schoolers’ parents, and small children’s parents.

In this small group, we experienced tremendous growth, were spiritually challenged, and had accountability. I enjoyed learning from older, wiser Christians who could say, “We went through that too, and this is how we made it.” If people are all the same age, they can share and relate to their issues, but few would have answers or wisdom on navigating those challenges or offering hope. (For the record, I get keeping singles and married folks separate, but other than that, I’m at a loss.) So my question remains, why do churches want to divide people into small groups according to their age?

Preliminary Thoughts

Bible does not stipulate how to operate a small group. Each church determines how they want to run small groups, which varies from church to church. Our role as church members is to obey and support our leaders while engaging the contexts they provide to serve each other (Hebrews 13:17).

You must determine the purpose of the group. In this episode, I’m speaking of sanctification groups, so when I use the term small group, I mean sanctification group: folks who come together to intentionally spur one another on to love and good works.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).

My “preference” are mixed groups of all ages. Schools and Sunday schools are two of the few contexts that are uni-generational. Virtually every other structure is multi-generational, e.g., family, work, hobbies, shopping, etc.

People will naturally gravitate to their preferred kind, i.e., young kids will seek to play with kids their age. You do not have to make “kind-to-kind connections” happen because we do it naturally, but if you want something more than peer-to-peer interaction, you’ll have to intentionally create it.

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Mixed Up Positives

  • Mixed groups position us to engage all kinds of people.
  • Mixed groups prepare Christians for different types of problems.
  • Mixed groups train people to be more effective disciple-makers.

More Specifics:

  • Young people can learn from role models, whether older singles or married couples.
  • Singles can learn from married couples, a huge plus since most of them will spend their lives married.
  • Young marrieds can learn from older and wiser married couples.
  • Middle age couples can learn how to serve those younger than them.
    • They can also maintain an appropriate cultural relevance, maximizing cultural engagement.
  • Older people can offer wisdom to everyone and be served by those who can help them.

Small Group Methodology

Small Group Contexts 01

If your goal is to have a dynamic small group experience, you must do more than have a mixed group. There has to be an intentional plan to build into the small group members’ lives. The following graphics explain the deliberate strategy my wife and I used when we led small groups.

  • Corporate meetings
  • Small group meetings
  • Couple to couple (or leader to singles)
  • Guy-to-guy meetings

Small Group Care Contexts 02

The Church Culture

  • If the church’s culture does not have a transparent, vulnerable, honest, courageous, charitable, authentic gospel DNA, it will be hard to build a sanctification group within that local body.
  • A sanctification group will have difficulty surviving in a larger church body that does not value, model, and practice a larger sanctification culture.
  • A church that values relationships begins with the leadership, specifically the husbands and the wives.
  • Please Read, Watch, or Listen to my last podcast: Ep. 446 My Church Doesn’t Do Community Well, and I’m Struggling.

Direct Video Messages

Call to Action

  1. Which type of group do you prefer, and why do you like it? What are the upsides to your choice?
  2. In what ways can a mixed small group experience supplement your parenting objectives?
  3. Why is intentionality essential to have a small group experience the way I have talked about it here? What would happen if the leader was not intentional about these strategies?
  4. How would you describe your church culture as it relates to having an intentional, vulnerable, courageous, transparent, and honest desire to live together? Be honest. Do you believe a small group experience that I have described here would work in the larger culture of the church?
  5. If you desire this kind of small group experience, what should be the first few steps you need to take to install that kind of group? Will you share your thoughts with someone you believe would be on board with your plan?

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