Step Three: Empower Your Groups
Empower your groups by giving them a clear runway. Just as airport workers routinely walk their runways to remove debris that might interrupt or prevent a plane’s takeoff, you can clear the runway for your groups to begin soaring on mission. Provide resources that make it easy for them to start pursuing the vision:
- Consider writing a curriculum resource for group missions—a step-by-step guide teaching groups how to discover their own mission, and how to act it out.
- Give each of your group leaders a calendar, and encourage them to work with their group to fill the calendar with their mission plans.
- Think about creative ways groups can fund their projects. Maybe they can ask for matching funds, or pursue projects that require labor, but not high expense.
Providing resources that help eliminate obstacles for groups doing missions is a small step that can yield amazing results.
Step Four: Release Your Groups
Simply put, don’t get in the way. Once your groups begin praying about and planning their missions ideas, don’t try to manage the process. Let God speak to each group. Allow them to pursue whatever God puts on their hearts. I was the senior pastor of a church where we emboldened, empowered, and released our groups. One of our groups organized a coaching event on interview skills, teaching people who were unemployed how to improve their resumes and interviewing skills, along with providing business attire and free haircuts. That group helped 10 people find jobs! Another group wanted to start a food pantry, and over the course of three years, they fed over 2,700 families! All my staff and I had to do was let these groups run. We didn’t micromanage, interrupt, or tell them “no.” We just let them live out what God had called them to accomplish.
Step Five: Celebrate Your Stories
Throughout the summer, your primary job as the small-group point person is to gather stories. Ask groups what they’re doing and how it’s going. Help them if they have questions, and focus lots of attention on learning their stories. Why? Stories are vital for group missions to influence and positively impact your church. If your focus is missions during the summer, every group will find something to do, and some groups will begin living out missions all the time.
Gather those stories and share them far and wide. Tell your entire church what happened over the course of the summer. Post pictures and videos all over the church, just as you did with the flyers to generate initial interest. These stories will encourage groups who didn’t get amazing results (it happens), as well as inspire groups who didn’t participate at all. Most of all, people will come to know Christ and their lives will be changed—and everyone who is a follower of Jesus wants to hear those stories.
Step Six: Lather, Rinse, Repeat
After a successful summer of group missions, leading future summer group missions will be like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat. Begin by making group missions a part of your church culture. Do this again and again in your church, and see what the Lord accomplishes.
—Alan Danielson is a speaker and consultant who helps churches maximize their discipleship potential through excellent leadership and small groups. Alan's 28 years of ministry experience have included being a Lead Pastor of New Life Bible Church in Norman, OK, serving on the executive team of Life.Church in Edmond, OK, and partnering with many of America's largest and fastest growing churches.