Setting up task groups is a great way to develop a growing number of faithful volunteers in almost any area of ministry. A task group is distinct in that it isn't just a traditional fellowship-building group or a team of people simply fulfilling a task. By definition, task groups attempt to accomplish both fellowship and ministry at the same time.
The principle mission of a task group is to set aside a 30-45-minute group time to develop the spiritual and relational life of each team member. People tend to join a group because of the task they want to work on, but ultimately they will stay because of the mutual caring among the group members. Being intentional about developing the sense of community through a designated group time strengthens and improves the overall health of the ministry.
Most of the principles used to develop effective traditional small groups can be transferred to working with task-oriented groups. However, several features will especially enhance the development of task groups:
- Encourage groups to meet before or after their serving time. No matter how frequent the serving opportunity (whether once per week or once per quarter), add a community dimension to each meeting.
- Monitor task-group curriculum selection and usage. To begin with, use simple, open-ended questions, such as those found in Nav-Press's 201 Questions. Evolve to using an uncomplicated small-group curriculum. For instance, group members could respond to discussion questions after reading a short passage from a Serendipity Bible or Life Application Bible.
- Develop a sense of teammates versus soulmates. People who join task groups generally have a primary commitment to the task and a secondary commitment to the people. Creating a teammate atmosphere helps everyone recognize that this group is different from the two-hour women's or couples' Bible study. Task-group members should accept and enjoy the fact that they have gathered in order to do something.
- Make the task a means to a greater end. Ultimately, changed lives is our goal. Over 50 percent of those serving in a task group will never join a traditional fellowship group. Yet a task group is an excellent place to connect unconnected people. For this reason, encourage groups to form around any appropriate impassioned cause for which a qualified leader will emerge.
- Provide ongoing leadership development. Leaders of task groups need regular support, training, troubleshooting help, and encouragement in order to lead over the long haul. Also, leaving an "open chair" (for the potential invited newcomer) in task group meetings will serve as the principle means of gathering the next generation of volunteers and leaders.
The beauty of leading and managing volunteer teams through task groups is that people not only accomplish the important task but also ultimately grow in their walk with God, with each other, and with the church. These are goals worthy of our labor.