The Small Group Meeting

The Group Agreement
The group agreement is a critical document you will use to establish your group. Every LifeGroup needs guidelines as the first step in establishing transformational Christian community.

Nearly 80% of problems that arise in a LifeGroup can be addressed or solved by establishing a clear group agreement. It allows you to help your group members establish the regular times, childcare agreement, food agreement, and the vision for your LifeGroup. It will need to be signed by each member at the end of the first group meeting.

In your first communication report, you will indicate to the LifeGroup pastor the things agreed upon and the people who agreed to your group.

Facilitating the Meeting
Your group meeting is the consistent connection point for your LifeGroup each week. The main goal of the LifeGroup leader is not to teach, but to facilitate an environment of BIO.

The group meeting looks different for our on and off campus groups. I will detail the elements of the meeting after describing the specifics.

ON CAMPUS:

  • Group meeting should go no longer than 1 hour 15 minutes (9:15-10:30am or 11:00-12:15pm)
  • LifeGroup leader should arrive around 9am or 10:30am to make sure the environment is ready for the group (chairs arranged comfortably, music playing, doors open, lights on)
  • The first 5-15min should be spent catching up with each other and a small amount of fellowship
  • Each meeting should be designed around 45min of lesson time. It will vary depending upon a DVD study, but this should be the goal. The lesson time should include ample time for discussion among group members. The goal is interaction!
  • The last 15min of the group time should be spent in prayer.

OFF CAMPUS

  • Group meeting should go no longer than 2 hours
  • LifeGroup leader should arrive 15 min before the starting time to welcome group members and connect with host home leader on any elements for setup (DVD player, chair arrangement, etc.)
  • The first 30-45min of the meeting should be spent in food and fellowship. I will talk about the food options in the Elements section.
  • The lesson time of the group meeting should be 30-45min. It should include ample time for discussion and interaction by all group members.
  • 15min of the group time should be spent in prayer.
  • The last 30min can be spent either in finishing these elements if you go over or fellowship.

Elements of the Group Meeting (On and Off Campus)
TIME: Finish on time! Some group leaders feel like good discussion warrants ended later than usual. Although we do leave room for the Spirit to work occasionally, if you consistently end your group late, people will end up falling out of your group. It has been proven that if you start and end of time, people will honor and consistently attend.

Plan well so that you can accomplish everything within your given amount of time!

ENVIRONMENT: The environment for your small group is vital to the BIO vision. The environment should be thought through and prepared in advance. Both on and off campus leaders can choose to appoint HOSTS who can be in charge of the room or home the group will use.

Based on the discussion and community aspects of the lesson, the rooms should be designed in a circle or semi-circle to allow interaction among group members. Also, before the meeting, HOSTS should think through the proper music or atmosphere as group members enter. The room or home should be well-organized and clean, ready for the group meeting.

In home environments, pets should be put away and in an environment where they will not interrupt the group meeting. There should also be space for kids to be kept away from interrupting the lesson time. All technical equipment should be checked before each group meeting.

ACTION: A new major focus of our BIO vision is that the “Before God” moments become an everyday part of your group members lives. In order to accomplish this, I would encourage you to create an action step out of each lesson. Encourage your group members to act upon what they have heard in their week and then come back together and share what God did in their lives.

Although every lesson will not have a direct action, most should and then your emails should remind/encourage your group members to try and act upon what they heard.

PRAYER: Throughout Scripture, prayer is a transformational element. Each week, part of the prayer time needs to be devoted to prayer for the action steps from the lesson. Some weeks, this may be all you pray over and not take the time for requests/needs.

Most groups choose to go through prayer requests from members. If this time is for legitimate concerns in the group members lives, then it will be helpful in fostering community among your group members. If it is a time to gossip/share stories, then it will not be transformational. As leader, you are responsible for keeping the focus of the prayer time on legitimate needs and transformational elements.

I suggest having a scribe keep track of all prayer requests from members and email it to the entire group. Also, unless you have a good amount of time left, I suggest not praying over every prayer request in the group meeting time. This can be done throughout the week through email by your group members.

FOOD (Off Campus): Food is a crucial part of creating an atmosphere of community. Around the dinner table, Jesus taught his disciples and shared in some of the best moments of his ministry. 

For your off campus group, this aspect of sharing time in community is a part of your group getting to know each other.

With that said, food can look different for each group. You can choose to have a family prepare a meal for the whole group, do a themed potluck each week, or just provide drinks and snacks. If you create the proper game plan with your group agreement, food will always be a blessing to your group and not become a hassle.

SHARE THE LOAD!: The single most important key to leading a LifeGroup- sharing the load! By choosing to allow others to participate in all the various elements of the LifeGroup meeting, you take the load off your shoulders and also guarantee a higher level of participation among your group members.

You can share the load in the following areas:
Teaching- develop an apprentice!
Hosting- let someone host the meeting and share their home
Food- have someone be in charge of scheduling the food needs
Prayer requests/email- let someone else communicate on prayer needs and recap the group meeting
Mission activities- allow someone else coordinate mission projects for the group

There are probably a number of other things you can give to group members. Be constantly evaluating the things you can give away to other people so that you can focus on being the leader and vision caster for your group!

COMMUNICATION REPORT: Finally, a major element in letting the church staff know the transformation happening in your group is through the communication report. It will arrive in your email inbox after your LifeGroup meeting and you should submit no later than 5 days after your group meeting. Please check “Email event summary to Leadership Only” when sending in your report.

This document is more than the traditional attendance reports. Although attendance is part of the report, the report also allows you to share stories of lifechange, let the pastors know about prayer needs, and to let the LifeGroup Pastor know about any difficulties or challenges that need to be addressed. It is a vital part of keeping the LifeGroup pastor connected to the life of your group.