Category Archives: Eating Together

3 Ways to Get Your Small Group Out of Its Rut

boringEven great small groups like yours can easily get into a rut where things are too predictable and routine. If your group is in this situation now and you need to mix things up to create more fun, outreach and relationship, here are three things you can do to get out or stay out of a small group rut:

  1. Party! Everyone, including small groups, loves to party! Every month or two you should do something just for fun. The possibilities are endless. Do a game night or picnic. Or go bowling, mini-golfing or to a ball game together. One thing to keep in mind is Read the rest of this entry

How to Be a High Impact Coach

For most churches we are just launching a new church year. For the first blog entry of the year I want to focus on the dynamic that my researched revealed as the most important element for a church’s small group system’s health and growth—the effective coaching of your leaders. Coaching is pivotal whether you are overseeing small group leaders, ministry directors, church planters, pastors, or any type of leaders.

How can you be a high impact coach? Here’s my advice based on what I have discovered both through research and my practical experience

  1. Pray for your leaders. James writes, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) Jesus declares, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) Pray for each of your leaders by name. A couple times a year I give each of my leaders a 3×5 index card and tell them to write down the things they want me to pray for their ministry and their personal life. I also use and really like the PrayerPartner iPhone app.
  2. Get your leaders together. While it’s very effective to meet with leaders one-on-one, it’s also more time consuming. Read the rest of this entry

Pray, Invite, Eat, Repeat

How do you grow a small group? I think it comes down to four simple actions: pray, invite, eat, repeat.

One reason why I want to write on this is because growing our own small group this year took persistence in these principles. We started strong with three committed couples. Then three other individuals joined us. But those three didn’t stay past our fall Outflow series and one of the core couples moved to Italy. Someone else joined us and for what seemed like a loooong time we had five people if everyone showed up.

What do you do when you have a great group and you just need more people?

Pray. We kept asking God to send us people.

Invite. This can’t be overemphasized. Everyone needs to be in a vibrant small group. Really. Some of them don’t realize it though! Some do. So you invite lots of people. We and our host invited people at the Vineyard, our friends, and even people in the grocery store. Some people we invited repeatedly. I remember one week when we were having a potluck that Vicki and I figured if everyone came that we invited that week we would have 20 additional people. One came. Eventually, though people started visiting and some of them kept coming back.

Eat. Food is important to small groups for lots of reasons, one is for drawing people. For some reason it’s less threatening and more fun for people to visit when you are having a potluck, cookout or party. So eat often. Last month our group had a potluck. This week we are having a cookout.

Repeat. These principles work but they sometimes take time. Persistence is important. Hang in there!

If you want your small group to grow—and you do, right?—I recommend that you pray, invite, eat, and repeat.

What advice do you have for others on growing a small group?

Food & Small Group Growth

This week everyone came to small group! Why? Because we were doing a potluck. People show up for food!

It reminds me of a potluck we did in our last small group. So many people were there that evening that a new member asked me if we had invited another group to join us. I said, “No, this happens every time we have a potluck.”

Food is important to a small group. There is something special about eating together. We share meals with those closest to us. When we eat together we enjoy great food and fellowship and celebrate belonging in God’s family.

I actually looked at the relationship of eating meals together and small group growth as part of my doctoral research. Groups that eat together grow faster. It’s not a major growth factor—like prayer or outreach or empowering leadership—but it definitely helps.

Here is what we did at our meeting. We met earlier than usual—at 6:00pm instead of 7:00pm. First we enjoyed a meal together. Adults ate in the dining room, the teens and kids were in the kitchen. Then we all moved to the family room and answered two fun icebreaker questions: “What is one thing you want for Christmas?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Eight adults, three teenage girls, and four grade school aged boys all answered both questions. (There were also two toddlers there.) All the answers were fascinating. It was fun. Then we enjoyed dessert together. After that people hung around and talked and some of us looked at a video of the Mahomet Marching Bulldogs. Some prayer concerns were shared informally. People stayed about two hours in all. We left about 8:00pm.

Have you done a potluck lately in your small group?