God created people to do life together in community. But He doesn’t just want everyone to benefit from being in a small group community. Jesus calls each of His followers to become a leader investing in the spiritual lives of others. If you are answering that call and stepping up to lead a small group for the first time, you might be nervous and have a lot of questions. Doing Groups Together is a training course specifically designed for first-time small group leaders. It will guide you with step-by-step instructions and answer your questions as you launch and lead a new small group. This flexible 6-session course can be used in an official training class, by an informal group of new leaders, one-on-one with a coach, or as a personal guide. The combination of video teaching, practical articles, and encouraging stories will help you begin the adventure of doing groups together.
Doing Groups Together
Doing Groups Together Session 1:
Why Did I Say Yes to Leading?
Small groups are central to God’s plans for His people and for His church, and people like you provide a place where life-change can happen. Jesus calls all His followers to invest in the spiritual lives of others just as you’ll be doing in your small group. In the next five sessions, we’ll answer questions you yourself might have: Who do I call? Where do I begin? When do I do what? How do I do it? And what’s next? You said yes to Jesus’ call to join in what God is up to, and that’s an exciting place to be.
Doing Groups Together Session 2:
Who Do I Call? Surround Yourself with a Team
You don’t have to put together a small group alone! Don’t carry this start-up burden—or the leadership burden—all by yourself. At this point, think about whom you’d like alongside you. Identify someone to be a coleader and then meet to consider who else to have as part of the core team. The core team will invite people—and don’t worry about having too many people. Two prayer groups and/or two discussion groups work just fine. Again, your leadership role is not a solo job! Build yourself a team!
Doing Groups Together Session 3:
Where Do I Begin? Preparing for Your First Meeting
The tips come rapid-fire: Invite those God has put on your heart. Promise free food. Tell those you invite that you’ll be sharing your spiritual story. Prepare the house: be sure there’s room for people to mingle and to sit. Test the technology if you plan to show a promo video. Greet each person as they arrive to make sure everyone feels welcome. Call the group together for introductions, an overview of both the curriculum and a typical meeting, and some logistics. And the video has still more tips for you!
Doing Groups Together Session 4:
When Do I Do What? What to Do at Your First Meeting
Ideally, have an informal gathering before you meet for your first study. Pray about whom to invite and what to share; ask God to oversee the establishment of the group. At this gathering, share your vision, your heart, and your hope for the group. Talk about how you’ve benefited from small groups. Remember that small groups help people feel heard and known, loved and encouraged, nurtured and cared for, ready to take on life’s challenges—and your God-given role is key!
Doing Groups Together Session 5:
How Do I Do It? Skills for Leading a Group
Prepare by praying for every member in the group, doing the lesson, and choosing options that fit your group. Greet people warmly as they arrive. Open with introductions. Guide prayer—and reading—but don’t call on anyone or go around the circle. Always be first to share a prayer request. Facilitate discussion by asking for volunteers, being patient with silence, affirming every response, and modeling the depth of sharing you desire. Draw out the quiet, rein in the talkative, and keep practicing these skills.
Doing Groups Together Session 6:
What’s Next? Looking Forward
To determine what’s next, consider where the group is now and where you’ve been by having each person share what’s hot (what they enjoyed, learned, or can praise God for) and what’s not (a problem, a challenge, or something they’d do differently). Say what your next step will be; include thoughts about what you would like God to do in you and/or in your life. Then give every group member an opportunity to do the same. Finally, know that CityRise appreciates your taking the risk to let God work through you.
Doing Leadership Together
Doing Leadership Together 1
It is a huge blessing for us to be able to present Doing Leadership Together. In session one, our Senior Pastor, Roger Patterson talks about seeking God’s heart for your group. Doing life together in small groups is central to the heart of God. For us to have great small groups, we need people like you who are willing to gather with friends for a season and form a community.
Doing Leadership Together 2
Pastor Kirby Follis continues our sessions by sharing how to start your group stronger than ever. Each New Study is a chance to try something new. Groups don’t stay static. Kirby shares three keys to remember right from the beginning. Number one is to build quality relationships. Number two is to remember authenticity and create shared ownership in the group. And the third key is charting a course for the next season and choosing a curriculum. Pastor Kirby describes each key and gives lots of helpful tips for cultivating them in your small group.
Doing Leadership Together 3
God cares about healthy groups that produce healthy people who are mature in Christ. People generally grow in baby steps—not over night, but over time. In this session, Liana Fairbanks shares four steps to helping your small group members in their efforts to grow spiritually in Christ. Number one, understand that growth is a process. Recognize where a person is in that process. Are they a seeker, a servant, or a shepherd? Liana describes each of these broad stages. Number two is to discern points of growth. What is God’s purpose for each person in this season? Number three is to encourage a plan for growth. Liana shares ways to help group members move forward in the areas they want to grow in. And number four is to celebrate progress in growth. God loves when we grow, so we should love it too!
Doing Leadership Together 4
Small groups go through various seasons. Some are turbulent, as group members experience situations that shake up their lives and their group. Others are comfortable and lull the whole group to sleep. In this session, Robby Dobbs helps us learn to sustain momentum no matter what season our group is in by identifying it and dealing with it appropriately. Each season has particular challenges and life cycles. This video details five of them. The first is forming. The second is storming. The third is norming, followed by the fourth, performing, and the last, transforming. Robby provides helpful information for knowing which stage your group is in and what to do in each of them to sustain the momentum that is so important to life-transforming small groups that continue to grow and multiply.
Doing Leadership Together 5
Just like unwrapped presents under the tree after Christmas would be unnatural, it is not right for a person’s spiritual gifts to remain undefined and uncultivated. God has created each person with the particular strengths, personalities, and skills He wants us to use for the common good of the Church. Aaron Senseman shows us in this video how to motivate group members to discern and use their spiritual gifts. Aaron gives three key ways to do this. First is discovering gifts with inventories, affirmation, and feedback from others. Second is demonstrating gifts as the leader lives as an example by exercising his or her gifts as a group leader and discussing with the group how they grew in the spiritual gifts required for the task. Third is to develop gifts in a lifelong step-by-step process. Discerning, demonstrating, and developing gifts is a huge step toward cultivating healthy, reproducing small groups with people who love and serve others in the ways God has created them.
Doing Leadership Together 6
Some people get worried when churches start talking about evangelism or disciple-making. But spiritually reproducing is as simple as investing in the spiritual growth of another person. God’s dream is that all of His people would be engaged in this kind of disciple-making. Ben Hays shares in this video about Jesus’ heart for disciple-making and three specific ways to spiritually reproduce lives and leaders in the group. Step one is to pray for nonbelievers who are known by the small group members. Step two is to invite new people to come and see what Jesus is doing in your small group and at church. Step three is to develop a new shepherd to lead another group in the future. Ben guides us through each of these three steps and helps us catch God’s heart for new people who need to know His love.
Doing Coaching Together
Doing Coaching Together 1
Humans are built for life together in community. In the Book of Acts, we see the early church meeting not only in the temple courts and synagogues, but also from house-to-house. Small groups are a key piece of this life together.
Coaches support the small group leaders. A group coach is the shepherd of a flock who cares for, not only the small group leader, but also every member in that group. Group leaders without a coach will often struggle to fulfill their mission to care for the flock.
In this video we give an overview of group coaching and introduce the five qualifications for being a small group leader coach.
Doing Coaching Together 2
In Session 2, we’ll dig into the place the rubber meets the road in small group coaching: Building genuine and healthy relationships.
God created humans to thrive in community with friendship and support. This is the heart of small groups and small group coaching. Before group leaders can build community in their small groups, they need coaches to model genuine relationships with them. Group leaders don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
In this session, we will discuss the three pieces of building relationships with your small group leaders so that they can do the same with their group members.
Doing Coaching Together 3
In Session 3, we discuss how healthy small groups produce spiritually healthy people who are alive and mature in Christ. Coaches nurture the spiritual lives of small group leaders and the people in those groups.
This session will teach you the four steps to nurture the spiritual life of the group and model this nurturing so that the group leaders can take the same steps with the people in their small groups.
Doing Coaching Together 4
Session 4 will discuss the spiritual gifts of the group leaders and their members. God has given each Christian spiritual gifts to use for the building up of the Body of Christ. Part of the job of a coach is to help group leaders and their members discover and use their spiritual gifts. Just as you would not leave gifts unwrapped at Christmas time, God does not want us to leave our spiritual gifts “unwrapped.”
The three main steps toward helping leaders to know and use their spiritual gifts are:
- Discern gifts by discovering through observation and tools such as gift surveys.
- Demonstrate gifts by showing them your own gifts in action, telling stories about how you have developed yours, and helping them share their own stories.
- Develop gifts, which is a lifelong process as we allow God to train us over time, while we faithfully move from students, to servants of God’s people.
Doing Coaching Together 5
In Session 5, we break down the three steps to making disciples by equipping and supporting a shepherding chain. It is important that Christians learn to invest in the spiritual lives of other people. The three steps are:
- Evangelism — modeling and cultivating a heart for the lost, equipping group leaders and their members to pray for the lost people in their lives and start spiritual conversations, and welcoming newcomers into their gatherings and social events.
- Developing Shepherds — breaking groups into smaller groups to allow members to take a greater part in discussions, rotating leadership in the group to teach others to lead, by coaching and giving support to the group leaders in this process.
- Multiplication of Groups — developing new leaders, starting new groups, and teaching and encouraging that this “disruption” is a necessary part of growth, much like in a family, when children grow up and leave to start new families. It should be celebrated!
Doing Coaching Together 6
In the final session, session 6, we will talk about Worship in the small group setting. Three main aspects discussed are Celebration, Surrender, and Experience.
Many people think of Worship as the singing time in a Sunday gathering, but worship is really about how we orient our lives to God in everything that we do. There are specific ways small group coaches can model and train group leaders to orient around worship in their lives and groups. Much of this is done in the monthly huddles with coaches and their leaders.
- Celebration—Take time to point out what God has done in the life of the group leaders. Praise God for those things.
- Surrender—Model putting God first by giving the time over to God and what he wants to do with it. Pray for his will and guidance.
- Experience—Design worship times for your huddles that will reorient your leaders to God and his purposes. This can be times of singing, prayer walks, communion together, or foot washing ceremonies. Show them how to facilitate corporate worship in a small group setting.
Weekly Leadership Training
Added support to lead effectively.
Watch this First
Kirby Follis, our executive pastor at CityRise explains some helpful key concepts in small group leading. First, view the Leadership Lifters for each session before your group meets. Second, watch your small group session ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the material and plan your discussion questions. We have purposely included more information than you can possibly use, so you can pick what’s best for your group. Third, check the back of your study guide for the wealth of information and resources you need to equip you to lead. And fourth, don’t forget to pray for your group members. God is with you, and He is preparing you to lead a great meeting. If you will ask and be open to listening to His Spirit, He’ll give you everything you need and lead you in how to pray for your members.
Leadership Training 1: A Step of Faith
If this is your first time leading, don’t panic. You have the Holy Spirit and tools like this Leadership Lifter, the “Leaders, Watch This First” on the website, and Leadership 101 at the back of study guide offering you practical tips and biblical encouragement as you prepare to lead. Today, for instance, Kathleen covers welcoming first-timers, introductions, the group agreement, shared ownership of the group, the open chair exercise, and the truth that God will be with you as you lead!
Leadership Training 2: God Will Be with You
Make time for “Leaders, Watch This First” on the website and Leadership 101 at the back of the study guide if you haven’t yet reviewed those resources!
Kirby has some great ideas. Again, have everyone introduce themselves, with first-timers saying how they heard about the group and others sharing one thing they got out of the first meeting. Kirby also addresses subgrouping (breaking up into smaller groups for prayer) and asking for volunteers to keep track of the group’s Prayers and Praise, to organize a group social, and to host. Also, pray for yourself and your group as you prepare. Know that God will be with you as you get ready and as you lead.
Leadership Training 3: Making Prayer Time Comfortable
The resources “Leaders, Watch This First” on the website and Leadership 101 at the back of the study guide are well worth your time!
Key to building community—key to sharing life—is praying for one another. Ben offers three tips that will make prayer time more comfortable for everyone. First, keep prayer voluntary. Don’t go in a circle ask, and don’t call on anyone to pray. Second, give people the option to pass rather than share a request. Third, be the first to share a prayer request. Your willingness to be vulnerable sets a good example. And remember you are serving Emmanuel, the God who is with you.
Leadership Training 4: Making God Smile
Find more leadership tips at “Leaders, Watch This First,” Leadership Lifter 1, and Leadership 101 are great resources.
In this Leadership Lifter, Alex reminds you not only that God will be with you as you prepare to lead and as you lead but also that your faith step makes God smile. In fact, every time we serve, we take a step of faith—and every follower of Jesus is called to serve. Simply put, serving is a matter of when, not if. Help members recognize and grow in their gifts by giving everyone the opportunity to serve during the Fight for It! series. Also, it’s not too soon to think about what your group will do after this study!
Leadership Training 5: Offering People the Love of Christ
“Leaders, Watch This First,” Leadership Lifter 1, and Leadership 101 are great resources.
Hearing the word evangelism can prompt stress, panic, and feelings of inadequacy. So Chris suggests we approach evangelism as simply and naturally offering people the love of Christ. We want folks who don’t know Jesus to understand His heart for the lost and to realize His desire to be their Shepherd and Savior. Chris calls us to pray for nonbelievers and, inviting us to rely on God, reminds us that Paul ministered not out of strength but out of weakness so people would put their faith in God, not a human being.
Leadership Training 6: Looking Forward and Back
With only one more meeting after this one, Robby addresses two timely matters. First, prepare the group to move forward. If you’re staying together, you’ve probably—ideally—chosen your next study. You might review the Group Agreement and suggest people consider changing their role in the group. Second, plan to celebrate next week with, say, an extra-special snack. And, as a leader, prepare to pray for each member at the last meeting and thank God for how He has worked during this time.
Leadership Training Bonus Session
When preparing to lead, don’t miss “Leaders, Watch This First,” Leadership Lifter 1, and Leadership 101 at the back of the study guide.
Take your leadership to the next level by implementing some of Dr. Magyar’s ideas: Challenge the group to spend more time reading the Bible between sessions. Propose additional study of something that came up in discussion or point group members to another Bible passage related to the week’s topic. Second, suggest that members review the lesson every day and ask God about how to act on what they’re learning. Third, encourage everyone to stay connected to God between sessions.