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How to build a healthy lifegroup


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A guide for LIFEgroup leaders at The Gathering

Published in: Leadership & Management
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How to build a healthy lifegroup

  2. 2. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Church small groups are not designed to simply be meetings where knowledge is transferred from one person to another. They are intended to be the practical application of Jesus' command in John 13:34, a place where the one-another commands of the New Testament can be lived out. A small group should be a community of people who have committed to share their lives with one another. In the process of sharing their lives, their growing unity promotes a deeper fellowship together and with Jesus Christ.
  3. 3. A LIFEgroup is the lab in which we learn to love and be loved by one another. The New Testament measures the growth of our love by the yardstick of the “One Another Commands.” ‣ Love one another. ‣ Be devoted to one another. ‣ Honor one another. ‣ Stop judging one another. ‣ Accept one another. ‣ Instruct one another ‣ Greet one another. ‣ Agree with one another. ‣ Live in harmony with one another. ‣ Serve one another. ‣ Bear with one another. ‣ Forgive one another. ‣ Submit to one another. ‣ Admonish one another. ‣ Encourage one another. ‣ Do not slander one another. ‣ Offer hospitality to one another.
  4. 4. Every group should focus on growth, care and mission. These need not be exhibited equally in every group, but every group should strive to find a healthy balance of the three. We come together to open ourselves to God’s Word and the work of God’s Spirit. As a result, our group members demonstrate an increase of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and actions. GROWTH We come together to combine our gifts and resources to ensure the needs of every member are met. We celebrate together, we mourn together and we work together to demonstrate God’s love to each other. CARE We come together to DO SOMETHING outside our normal group meetings. To avoid becoming internally focused, we intentionally strive to be an outwardly focused group. MISSION
  5. 5. Each official group meeting should include these four elements of a “successful small group meeting.” As you build your group, remember, “teamwork makes the group work.” FOOD FRIENDSHIP FAITH FOCUS
  6. 6. Something happens to us when we share food with other people. Food helps people drop inhibitions and open themselves to others. Acquaintances become friends and friends become soul-mates over shared meals. A healthy small group doesn't always need food, but food almost always helps a group be healthy. ‣ Keep it simple. Provide snacks instead of meals. Brownies, cookies, vegetables are all great. Even a quick trip to Kroger is sufficient preparation. ‣ Take turns. Don’t let any one person be responsible for all snacks. If each group member is responsible one week, no one member will get overwhelmed. By keeping the snacks simple, no one is unqualified to provide. ‣ Choose one coordinator. Their responsibility is to keep the list and remind people when it is their turn to provide snacks. IDEAS FOOD
  7. 7. True friendship doesn't just happen, it must be cultivated. A healthy small group, regularly takes time to cultivate friendship by building relationships among group members. Devoting a significant time to relationship building whenever the group comes together is the best way to develop true fellowship. ‣ Ask each member an “ice-breaker” type question such as, “If you were stranded on an island, who would you want with you?” or “If you could have a conversation with one historical character, who would you choose?” ‣ Ask each member an “experience” question such as, “When was your best vacation?” or “Who has made the most impact on your life?” ‣ Use table games like ImaginIf, Zobmondo or Dictionary to get group members talking about themselves. IDEAS FRIENDSHIP
  8. 8. The small group exists to empower every member to become more like Jesus. Know yourself. If you are capable of preparing a discussion lesson every week, go for it. However, if that is too much of a challenge, a wealth of material exists which you can use to build the faith of your group members. ‣ Use the sermon follow-up questions available in each week’s program ‣ Select and use a video curriculum ‣ Find discussion guides at: ‣ Choose a book to read through together ‣ Keep it simple with a SOAP study or the RAP method. IDEAS FAITH
  9. 9. SCRIPTURE - Read a passage together OBSERVE - Talk about what the passage says and what it means APPLY - Discuss how to live out the truth of the passage PRAY - Spend time praying with and for one another RAP SOAP READ - Read a passage together and talk about what it means to you ASK - Ask the following two questions: ‣ What is God doing in your life? ‣ With what are you struggling right now? PRAY - Spend time praying with and for one another
  10. 10. Small groups often tend toward being internally focused rather than externally focused. To avoid this danger, members of a healthy small group should be sharing their lives outside their normal meeting times. A healthy small group should have "extra" events that bring them together for purposes beyond studying the Bible. ‣ Serve together in the community (soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc.) ‣ Serve together in the church (childrens ministry, youth ministry, building and grounds projects) ‣ Sponsoring needy families during the holidays ‣ Taking trips together (sports events, amusement parks, camping) ‣ Dinner parties and potlucks or lunch together after church IDEAS FOCUS
  11. 11. Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” More than anything else, Jesus’ followers should be concerned with pursuing the lost. Most of the time, most groups should be actively pursuing new members. Keeping an empty chair visibly present at group meetings is a reminder that everyone can be inviting others to join. ‣ Begin by praying together for those you desire to invite. ‣ Invest your time and energy into building relationships with those you desire to invite. Have dinner with them, go to a game together, help them with a project at their home. ‣ Invite them to a small group party as a low-pressure introduction to your group. ‣ Be open with others about why you participate in a small group and how it has benefited your life. ‣ Accept “no” for an answer, but not forever. Ask again. IDEAS
  12. 12. FINDMOREABOUT LIFEgroups YOU CAN LEAD A SMALL GROUP (Kindle book available on