Even though I am not solely focused on small groups anymore, they are still quite a passion of mine. I believe small groups are the most effective way to disciple students other the few years we have them in our ministry. Going from Saddleback HSM which has small groups on lock to a place where there is less structure has been interesting and fun. It’s like having a blank slate and I kind of like it. There is no real small group culture in our ministry but I’m praying this will change. Change takes time and a lot of work. 

A few weeks a go we began the process of creating what that structure will look like.When there has been no structure, structure scares people. People will get so used to doing things their own way and most of time it can be unhealthy. Bringing a healthy structure to chaos is tough but necessary.

I have heard the following things when it comes to structure:

  • I feel like there is no freedom.
  • Having curriculum is limiting us.
  • I don’t know how to teach the Bible.
  • Every other month meetings is a lot of meetings.
  • I can’t do Wednesday nights and lead a small group.

All real. All legit. But when it comes to starting a new thing we need to start with why. People will be more than likely to get behind you if tell them they “why” behind you do what you are doing instead of starting off with the “what” and “how” (This is taken from the leadership principle of Simon Sinek TED talk. Click HERE to hear it, you are going to want to do that). Starting with”why” can help inspire people to move forward.

Here is the why:

  • You have freedom to make the group your own. I want you to create a vibrant, authentic community in how ever you know how to do to reach your students but using these structures to help guide you.
  • We give curriculum because we want to make sure what is being taught matches what the church teaches. Curriculum is not everything, but it’s something. We want you to use something.
  • You don’t know how to teach? We have curriculum for you to use to create conversations and help you walk you through each lesson. Curriculum is not everything, but it’s something. Here is something you can use. 
  • If small groups are for creating a great community, we really need our leaders to enjoy in some of this community themselves. It really makes a difference when our leaders know, learn and have fun with each other. So meetings are important for our student’s growth.
  • You do not have to lead on Wednesdays and lead a group. You can choose one or both. We want our leaders to be healthy, so do what you feel you need to do to be healthy. Wednesdays are a great way to connect with students and have fun. Small groups are perfect if you want to truly disciple a group of students. Healthy leaders create a healthy ministry.

Creating and changing culture takes lots of time and lots of re-casting of vision. Keep going, keep teaching, keep reaching. 

Have you ever had to bring structure to something with non? What did that look like? How did it go?