Even 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:
- 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
Last Sunday evening I visited our church’s School of Kingdom Ministry which is a weekly three-hour program that trains people in supernatural ministry like healing and prophecy. As usual, the first half of the class was teaching and the second half was practice. At the end of the teaching portion of the class I spoke briefly and then the group broke into two groups for practice: half of us were to do “power evangelism” praying for strangers around town and the other half were going to help pray for people in healing rooms.
I quietly slipped out, feeling slightly guilty, and did neither. Instead, I went home to get time with my wife Vicki. It’s not that I didn’t want to do one of the practical ministry exercises; it was simply that I had done too much ministry already in the previous week. Lately I’ve been feeling like God is telling me to slow down to allow more time for relationship with him and with others.
When I got home, Vicki and I decided to walk to the Dairy Queen and get cones. A Chinese friend who lives nearby saw us as she drove by and asked us if we wanted a ride. We told her “no thanks,” that we were enjoying the gorgeous weather, and we preceded walking. She drove off in the direction of her house. As we continued walking we texted her, inviting her to get her husband and join us at DQ. She then walked to DQ from her home and got there shortly after we did, but without her American husband. When we asked her why he hadn’t come with her, she said that several weeks ago he had contracted Bell’s Palsy and that the left half of his face was paralyzed and that he didn’t want to go out in public. She also told us that her parents whom we had recently invited to our church’s Chinese ALPHA course had just received Christ as their Lord and Savior at the ALPHA Holy Spirit Day and that they were being baptized this week on Easter Sunday at the Chinese church near our neighborhood. She excitedly shared how their lives were changing and how joyful they were about what God is doing in their lives. She invited us to their baptism.
Vicki and I like to mix up how we do small group meetings, especially in the summer. Most weeks we follow our standard format, the 5 W’s—Welcome (an Icebreaker or Opening Question), Worship, Witness (briefly praying for friends that need God), Word (Bible study), Wind (prayer & amp; ministry), and of course snacks. (I know most of our Vineyard small groups do worship between the bible study and ministry times, but our group does worship upfront to include the children in our group before they are dismissed.) Besides the standard meeting format, we often do a party or fun night like a cookout, potluck, pool party or game night.
This month we are taking several weeks just to do ministry nights. Ministry nights are cool. Here’s how they work. After the usual upfront stuff—the icebreaker, worship and prayer for our friends that need God—we simply ask the question, “Who’s birthday is next?”
Then we put that person in a chair in the center of the room and tell them just to relax and enjoy being blessed and encouraged. (If the person is married, we also put their spouse in the middle.) I then encourage the other group members to get up and stand around that person, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to share any words, pictures or scriptures that are coming to their mind, or just to pray or bless that person with what is on their heart.
It’s fun and very encouraging and refreshing for the person or couple in the middle. After we have prayed for them and shared encouraging words with them for ten or fifteen minutes we ask them if there is one special thing they want pray for. Then we pray for that thing and invite the Holy Spirit to fill them anew with his joy and presence.
Then we say, “Who has the next birthday?” And we minister to that person or couple.
You can do a few people a night. Last night we prayed for two couples and one individual. Depending on how large your small group is, praying for everyone will take two or three meetings. If you have visitors, you simply let them choose whether they want to be included or not. I remember a first time guest saying on a ministry night, “I’m coming back next week, my birthday’s next!”
Last week just before we started this month’s ministry nights, I was a little nervous. I thought, if God doesn’t show up, this is going to be a flop! It seemed risky and scary. He did show up. It was wonderful. I have never had the Holy Spirit not show up for a ministry night. He seems to like these opportunities!
This is just one way to allow more time for ministry. What ideas or experiences do you want to share about doing extended ministry in small groups?