Over the last 18 months we have been praying, reading, researching how Small Groups can increase their impact as a catalyst for disciple making.  Our groups have been very successful as community builders, care givers, party goers and foundational Bible study discussions.  We have been blessed with hundreds of people getting connected and doing life together.  But our team has become more burdened with the disciple making command found in Matthew 28:19-20.

So our GroupLife team began to re-think, re-write and implement some practices in July 2013 that we are seeing making a difference in the life of some of our groups.

1.  We changed from a pure HOST model of small group leadership to a Shepherding model with an intentional disciple making element. (Shepherding map here http://lifepointchurch.org/journey). We still call from the stage for people who are interested in leading a small group in our next campaign.  However, instead of this being a Sunday or two before the campaign begins, we actually schedule this “mass call” five weeks prior.  Anyone interested in learning more about leading  a group is invited to Leadership Camp.

2. We now require a potential Small Group Leader to attend Leadership Camp, six hours of discipleship and development.  We were worried about the length of this course, but after 2 seasons it has proven very productive.  Half of Camp covers “How to grow as a disciple and shepherd others on their journey”.  The other half, what potential leaders are really looking for, focuses on “Small Group Leader helps”.

3. We intentionally write into all of our studies a gender-based meeting within every 6-week study.  For the studies our groups use which we did not write, we remind leaders to plan ahead for a gender-based session a minimum of once every six weeks.  Stories from Small Group Leaders and participants over the last nine months have proven this to be helpful in increasing discussion, transparency and disciple making.  Some groups have chosen to have these gender-based discussions more often, some even dividing the gender group meeting nights and couples – once a month.

So, where have I been?  Continuing to learn, test, change, grow…be stretched by God.

Stay tuned for weekly stories from Small Group Leaders, Leadership Development processes which focus more on the person than the task, Sending Small Groups that impact their communities.