Offering task groups is a great way to develop a growing number of faithful volunteers and promote biblical community. A task group is distinct in that it isn't simply a traditional fellowship-building group or simply a team of people 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 group time to develop the spiritual and relational life of each team member. Whether you meet after the task is finished to share and pray, or you alternate weeks of serving with weeks of gathering together, it's key that you carve out time to invest in relationships. People tend to join a task group because they want to contribute to the task, but ultimately they'll stay because of the mutual caring between group members. Being intentional about developing a sense of community through designated group time strengthens and improves the overall health of the task group.
Most of the principles used to develop effective traditional small groups can be transferred to working with task 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 each time you're together.
Monitor task-group curriculum. To begin, use simple, open-ended questions that get discussion going. For instance, group members could respond to discussion questions after reading a short passage from the Bible or a devotional. Later on, use an uncomplicated small-group curriculum that focuses primarily on discussion rather than gaining lots of Bible knowledge.
Develop a sense of teammates. 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 simply fulfilling a task together. It also clearly communicates that it's different than a weekly in-depth Bible study.
Make the task a means to a greater end. Over 50 percent of those serving in task groups 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. Keep them coming back by connecting their task to a larger initiative of the church, a community need, or a way to affect people's lives. When they see the purpose they're working toward, they'll commit long-term.
Provide ongoing leadership development. Leaders of task groups need regular support, training, troubleshooting, and encouragement in order to lead over the long haul. Plus, you'll want to train leaders to identify and apprentice new leaders within their groups.
The beauty of offering task groups is that people not only accomplish an important task but also grow in their relationship with God, each other, and the church. These are goals worthy of our labor.
—Brett Eastman is the founder of LifeTogether. Used with permission. All rights reserved.