Vibrant and vital Small Group Ministry depends on developing and maintaining healthy practices learned from the experiences of dozens of congregations:
- Faith development is a primary purpose of Small Group Ministry
- Developing deep listening and communication skills is another important purpose
- Deepening relationships and fostering community is an additional purpose
- Relationship should be mutual, balancing giving and receiving
- Use a circle format where everyone has a chance to share and be understood
- Avoid offering unsolicited advice
- Hold confidentiality: Share the learning, not the stories of others
- Avoid over-sharing: These are not therapy groups
Helpful Small Group Dynamics
- Groups should be no fewer than 6 and no more than 10 participants
- Meet at least monthly, in a place where others can't listen in (a members home or a room at the church building)
- Group members should commit to attend regularly
- Groups should develop and keep a covenant
Helpful SGM Program Dynamics
- Groups should have a clear accountability to the church's mission and leadership.
- Have each group keep an empty chair in the circle to signal the openness to new members.
- Provide opportunities for new groups for new friends and members to join new or existing, open groups.
- Provide opportunities for existing groups to dissolve gracefully (e.g. at the end of the church year).
Trained and Supported Leaders
- SGM facilitators should be members of the congregation.
- Pair facilitators for training, support and redundancy
- SGM should have some pastoral care training and be communication with the lay pastoral care team and/or the minister when a need arises.
- Meet regularly for care and guidance with SGM Program leadership