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Preparing for Small Group

This may not be very exciting but I thought I’d tell you how I get ready for small group. I have an old flimsy nylon briefcase that is my small group briefcase. I keep my small group stuff in it. Right now it has songsheets, the Outflow book, and outflow DVD in it. I toss the small group helps—the LifeLine—in there each week.

The longer I lead small group the more I realize that praying is important and preparing the lesson isn’t that important. As many of you might guess, it was my doctoral research on healthy small groups that helped me discover this. It’s really true. This week I prayed for the group at various points. Mostly random prayers as the group came to mind but Vicki and I also prayed for things a few times together.

“You have not because you phone not” is a truth about small group especially when you are starting a new group. We called everyone who has come to group—not many at this point—to inform them of where we were meeting. One person said that she enjoyed visiting our group but would not be back. 🙁

I’m not sure why. We’ll try to find out from her after the service this weekend. Maybe another group would be a better fit for her.

Vicki called a gal who hadn’t come yet but seemed interested. She came! 🙂

I skimmed the small group helps and highlighted key phrases and the questions that I wanted to ask.

As I prayed for the group this week I could see one of the group member’s face. As we prayed on the way to group this happened again, I realized that this was probably from God. I thought, “We need to pray for this guy tonight.” We did. I have found if I listen, God faithfully shows where to start ministry.

We met at a different host home this evening. The couple is moving out of the country in two months so they have sold a lot of their stuff. They told us that they don’t have a TV or coffee maker anymore. “No problem,” we told them, “we’ll bring a coffee maker and a computer to show, the Outflow DVD on.” On the way to small group, as Vicki and I were praying for the group, I realized that we had loaded up the coffee maker but not the computer. Oops! We were too far from home to go back. I joked to Vicki, “I guess we got the most important thing—the coffee maker!” Fortunately, the hosts had a laptop and external speakers that we could use to play the DVD.

Small group went great. The input, discussion and prayer on reaching our family and friends was on target and really spoke to everyone. Worship was good. Ministry was good. There was delicious cheesecake, popcorn, and coffee for snack. People didn’t seem to want to leave, but I didn’t want to wear out our welcome so I threw my stuff in my old briefcase a little after 9:00 and said we need to run. Everyone left.

One of the group members wants to have the whole group over for a Thanksgiving meal later this month. This group seems to be gelling way faster than the last small group we led. It’s a joy and privilege to be a small group leader.

What do you do to prepare for group?

4 Responses to Preparing for Small Group

  1. Anonymous November 2, 2007 at 5:05 am #

    Jim, thanks for your lengthy and very informative blog.  I am enjoying your journey with your small group.  It’s inspiring and very helpful.  This is a great idea!  I will continue to log on as I find the time. Blessings from Danville Small Group with Wes and Julia Parker and the rest of the members.  Julia

  2. Coaches November 4, 2007 at 7:18 am #

    I visited one of our newer small groups ,and then called someone we knew form a previous group and invited them to return with us the next week. It’s almost as much fun as “fixing people up ” or matcmaking . I’d encourge other coaches to try this .I know I’d be morelikely to visit a group if I was sure someone I knew would be there. ( I visited a week beforeI invited them because I wanted to be honest when I said how nice the people in the group were- I thought it would be pretty hokey if I’d never been there!)

  3. a friend in Des Moines, Iowa November 5, 2007 at 2:44 am #

    hi. i started a small group this fall after being an attender for years. it’s harder than i thought it would be…. just because now it’s up to me to keep the group focused and on task.  like, it’s time to end the chit chat & worship everyone. 🙂  i often feel like i’m scurrying to small group. that window between getting home from work, trying to feed my family and then get to group by seven is so short. at times I have forgotten some things, like you mentioned forgetting the lap top. at first i wanted to get upset with myself and feel like i wasn’t a very good leader. but now (although i still do my best to be absolutely perpared) i just roll with the punches and laugh with the group telling them that if i can be a leader, than anyone can!  i went to one of jim’s small group training sessions a couple of years ago and learned that prayer and loving people are the most important parts of leading a group, so that’s my priorities in getting prepared.

  4. Jane Smith November 8, 2007 at 8:38 am #

    Jim:  Love your naturalness.  This IS what real life and small groups are all about.  When I am natural as a Leader, … the group members “dial down” and are natural and more open as well.  In preparation, I always pray first, read Lifelines, and make notes/outline and review the prayer and praise requests/reports from the previous week remembering what my thoughts and focus were on all members during the week and what God might have in store for the night – ANTICIPATION!  Especially, when I am thinking about how each member might benefit from the topic at hand.  I then begin the usual routine of setting up the chairs, making the coffee, getting glasses and ice out, etc… thanking God for all who will join and share and who have already decided to come and “take the time” to dedicate the couple of hours with Him.  It builds the momentum….  Then I know it will be a great evening and as always God is there in full force for us!   It’s all about COME EXPECTING…..

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