Leading a small-group ministry is no easy task, but it's important ministry. Having a front-row seat to the work that God is doing in the lives of the people in your church is amazing. We at SmallGroups.com know, though, that healthy small groups don't just happen. They take vision and planning and training, and we are honored to be able to provide tools that help you carry out that essential ministry work. As 2016 draws to a close, we're taking a look at our most popular Training Tools of the year. Whether you need tools to train your leaders, tips on organizing your ministry, or practical orientation guides you can give to new leaders, you'll find just what you're looking for in this list.
1. Small-Group Leader Training Program
Set a firm foundation for your new small-group leaders.
It can be difficult to train new small-group leaders. What exactly do brand-new leaders need to get started? How can you help them feel confident as they begin leading? And how can you train them effectively with as little stress as possible?
With the Small-Group Leader Training Program, we've done the hard work for you. You'll get all the tools you need to implement an engaging and practical training in a half-day workshop, a five-week turbo group, or a variety of other formats. Included, you'll find a comprehensive Leader's Guide, five video sessions, and information on how to order the accompanying Participant Workbook for your leaders.
2. Create Sermon-Based Studies
How to write engaging group studies that tie into your pastor's sermons
Churches across the world have had success with small-group campaigns that link the sermon with what small groups study during their meetings. But you don't need a specialized campaign to make sermon-based small groups work. In fact, you can offer great sermon-based small-group guides to your leaders year-round.
This Training Tool will show you how to take your pastor's sermon notes and turn them into easy-to-use guides that can help your small-group leaders facilitate transformational discussions. And it's easier than you might think.
3. Develop a Group Strategy
Expert advice on creating a custom plan for your ministry.
Recent research reveals that less than 50 percent of churches have a well-defined strategy for small-group ministry. Yikes! But we understand—it's really hard to find a structure that fits your context well. Often our first instinct is simply to cut and paste what's working at another church. But then when it fails, we realize it never fit our church to begin with. We'd like to show you a better way. This resource will give you the tools to create a customized strategy for your context. Learn from the experts what it takes to have a thriving ministry and how to get there from your current reality. With their tips, you'll create a structure that not only fits your context, but also meets your goals for group life.
4. Creative Leader Training
Think outside the box and your leaders will want to attend training events.
Regardless of the small-group leader training offered to new leaders at your church, there are issues and needs that come up that require additional training. And many churches like the idea of training events where all the small-group leaders are present. But too often these events are poorly attended and elicit negative feedback from leaders.
In this resource, you'll learn the secrets to holding training events that small-group leaders want to come to. Learn from the experiences of people who have been training leaders for years. Plus, we offer several field-tested activities you can incorporate into your next training event.
5. Orientation Guides
Resources for specific roles in small-group ministry from director to leader
Getting started as a brand-new small-group director, coach, or leader is no small task. That's why we created our popular orientation guides. These guides, each for a specific role in the ministry, lay out job descriptions, key knowledge, and even encouragement for leaders as they get started. They're the perfect place to start on our site. We also offer our two most popular guides in Spanish: small-group director and small-group leader.
6. Ministering to Difficult Group Members
How to effectively lead a group without letting members' quirks get you off track
Leading a group seems so honorable, grand, and life-changing—until you run into difficult group dynamics. It's amazing how the actions of one person can dramatically alter the group. One person giving a little too much advice, one person talking a little too much, and the whole group is affected. Despite all the work you've put in to create a safe environment, it can all come crashing down when difficult group dynamics reign. And that's exactly why you need to learn how to address the issues. This resource will give you the tools you need to keep your group healthy and on track—even when you have some interesting group dynamics at work.
7. Leading 101
The basics of leading a small group
There's a reason college students are required to take 101 classes—they set a foundation for more in-depth classes they'll take later. These classes give the basics and serve as a survival guide for the subject. When small-group leaders begin their first groups, they need a 101 class, too. That isn't to say they won't ever need more in-depth training, but they need a base—something to help them get off to a great start and navigate the responsibilities of their role.
That's exactly what this resource is designed to do. This incredible resource gathers some of our best articles for small-group leaders. Learn how to prepare for group meetings, lead discussions, handle challenging group dynamics, welcome new members, and apprentice new leaders. Use this resource to train yourself, or use it with the small-group leaders you coach. Either way, it's a valuable resource.
8. Market Your Small-Group Ministry
Communicate about small groups in a clear, compelling way that draws people into groups.
Whether you're just starting your ministry, relaunching it, or simply continuing a healthy ministry, small-group point people need an intentional strategy for marketing the small-group ministry. Experts like Steve Gladen, Mike Mack, Carter Moss, Will Johnston, and Ben Reed have contributed to this incredible resource, sharing the wisdom they've gained from leading small-group ministries. Learn how to develop a marketing plan, communicate effectively, keep small groups in front of your congregation regularly, and pull off a successful campaign.
9. Plan a One-Day Retreat for Your Small Group
You and your group members could use a break.
Your small group deserves a break, and this training tool is designed to show you how to organize a one-day retreat. You'll find articles and Bible studies to prepare you for a retreat, tips on preparing a time and place, and even a participant's guide that will serve as a roadmap for your group members on the day of the retreat. The content for the retreat is all ready for you—you just need to pick a day and location.
While this retreat is designed for small groups, there's no need to limit it to "official" small groups. Any group of believers could use this material to have a fruitful day of rest. Or plan a retreat specifically for leaders with Plan a One-Day Retreat for Leaders.
10. Organize Your Ministry
The right structure will allow your ministry to thrive and grow.
Most leaders involved in small-group ministry consider themselves relational. We like connecting with people and encouraging them to grow. Because our focus is on relationships, many of us let organization slide. We figure our time is better spent on investing in people rather than organizing the ministry.
But the truth is that an organized ministry allows us to shepherd and care for people more effectively. That's what Will Johnston has learned in his years leading a thriving small-group ministry, and he shares his hard-won wisdom with us in this training tool. You'll learn critical skills to help you organize, structure, and support your small-group ministry regardless of size, model, or context.