Small Groups

Top Tips

 

How do I handle typical issues that arise in my group?

 

You may be asking, “What about this?  What about that?  I don’t how to handle ________ (you fill in the blank!)?  Read-on to get some ideas on how to address these issues.

 

1.    Our group doesn’t have a leader.

How can we establish a leader for our group”

There are two primary reasons to have a leader for your group.  First, it provides one person that everyone else agrees to allow to help the group move through making decisions.  Sometimes a group cannot come to consensus on a decision.  When everyone agrees to turn to the leader and let him or her moderate the group through such times (whether they like the ultimate decision or not), the group will run much effectively.  Second, our small groups work under the assumption that each group is supported and supervised by the church.  A single point of contact for the group is needed to allow this to work effectively. 

Often someone is concerned about the commitment required to lead.  Our small groups actually share the responsibilities of the group so the leader is primarily the person that simply keeps the group on track and communicates with the church when needed.  He or she does NOT do all the work in keeping the group running.  Finally, if your group is trying to select a leader, here are three good questions you can ask everyone in the group and then submit your responses to your coach to help identify a possibly leader for your group from your existing members:

1.       What prior small group experience do you have within a Christian organization?

2.       What other prior volunteer experience do you have within a Christian organization?

3.       Would you be willing to serve your group as the leader if asked to do so?

Have members write answers on a piece of paper, fold these up, and give them to your coach (you can keep anonymous if needed).  Ask you coach to evaluate the responses, contact anyone if necessary to confirm their experience or willingness to serve, and then recommend a leader to the group.

 

2.    Someone doesn’t like their group assignment.

How do I respond to group members when they ask, “How did I end up in this group?”

Point them to the following explanation: http://www.CRFSmallGroups.org/GroupLinkPlacementProcess.htm

If they want to revisit their options, point them to: http://www.CRFSmallGroups.org/GroupLinkOptions.html

 

3.    Someone can’t participate in the group.

If our group decides to do something, but someone can’t (or won’t) go along, what do I do?

Small groups have to make decisions to function.  Typically not everyone will like the final decision because it might not work for them.  An example would be, “What night should we meet on?”  Ultimately one or two people may not be able to meet on the night chosen.  This IS uncomfortable but not abnormal.  This is a reality.  Inevitably not every individual in a group will be accommodated by the group’s decisions.  In a situation like this, encourage the individual and let them know if things change for them in the future that they are welcomed back to the group at any time (communicates acceptance) but encourage them to contact the small groups pastor, John Frye, to see if there is another option that works better for them.

 

4.    We can’t find a host. 

We are having a hard time getting a host home to commit, how can I approach this?

Review the following hosting tips with your group and discuss this openly with the group: http://www.CRFSmallGroups.org/GroupLinkHosting.htm

Use the Sign-up sheet, to “share” hosting responsibilities so everyone helps: http://www.crfsmallgroups.org/GroupLinkSignupSheet.pdf

 

5.    No one wants to do childcare (but it’s needed). 

Everyone keeps asking, “Why can’t we just meet at the church and use the childcare there?”  What should I do?

John Frye’s first small group at Crossroads had 7 newborns in it in one year (they were all new parents – 7 couples!).  This grew to almost 20 kids ages 0 to 9 over time.  It was a challenge but they were able to make it work just fine.

 

Our Crossroads small groups meet home-to-home (Acts 2:42 :o) so childcare is done at or near the host home but not on the church campus.  I KNOW this is hard for parents of young ones to grasp but encourage them to “give it a try”.  If they do, they will “grow into it” and make it a part of their life style as parents vs. an obstacle to overcome (e.g. “can we outsource this?”). 

 

Doing childcare in the home location not only is the easiest and most productive for the group, it actually builds community and maturity in the parents as they learn to “live within their means” and start blending their children into the ebb and flow of their every day life – even their life with their small group friends :o).

 

Here is a link with some “tips” on doing childcare: http://www.CRFSmallGroups.org/SG_Childcare.htm

 

Feel free to review this with your group members so you have the “official” way that Crossroads recommends your group do childcare.  This will keep folks from getting frustrated with you and focus all their frustration on the Small Groups Pastor John Frye (“It’s really all his fault…does that pastor really know what it takes to have all these kids in a home”? :o).

 

6.    My group doesn’t like the study. 

What should I do if my group doesn’t like the “packaged” study we are using?

Explain to the group that the study is just for 6 weeks.  After that the group can choose its own study.  Ask your group to focus on getting to know one another and leveraging whatever they can from the study to help them do this.  If the group can “bear with” the study in the short term, it will actually allow them to focus their energies on building friendships at the start of their group.  Using this packaged study also allows the leader to not have to spend a lot of time preparing content (just put in the DVD and press play!) so they can spend the hour or so they have each week to get ready for the group by praying for the members, contacting them, etc….

 

7.    We have a disruptive person in our group. 

What can I do to address someone in my group that is disruptive (e.g. late all the time, talks to much, gives advice,  etc…)?

Review the “Participant Guide” with your group again.  Here it is: http://www.crfsmallgroups.org/GroupLinkParticipantGuide.pdf

This guide address the typical “disruptive” types of behaviors that can cause a group to fail…just because of one person!  If the individual persists with the disruptive behavior even after you’ve reviewed the above with the group, pull the individual aside and ask them to help you with something.  Focus on something that will address their disruptive behavior as they help you.  Here is an example.

Let’s say someone talks too much.  After reviewing the guide, they continue to dominate the discussion.  Do this…prior to the next meeting, pull them aside and have a conversation something like this with them, “Joe, I appreciate your openness with the group.  Your willingness to participate in the discussion keeps things lively.  I wanted to ask you to help me at our next meeting with something.  Could you do this?  I’m trying to get other folks to build their confidence so they will share more.  I know they want to share but they just don’t have the confidence.  To help me, could you wait for me to ask you directly to share your thoughts on a question so that I can draw others out in the discussion?  I might say something like this after I’ve asked you to respond to a question and you’ve answered it, “Everyone, Joe was willing to share a response to that question, now would someone else be willing to also share what they are thinking”?

Ultimately, if a person won’t stop being disruptive and you think it could hurt the group over the long run, ask your coach to intervene and the coach working with the Small Groups Pastor can address this with the individual.

 

8.    We have a disruptive child in our group. 

What can I do to address a disruptive child?

This is a difficult issue to address but it is addressable!  First, make sure the group knows how the group is handling childcare.  Don’t assume everyone knows.  If you decide that everyone will sign-up and rotate through each week doing childcare, make sure you pass the sign-up sheet around and if someone hasn’t signed up, ask them to pick a day that works for them so that everyone helps support the group in this way.  Second, when a child comes into the “adult group meeting” and disrupts the discussion (this WILL happen :oO), make sure you have told the group upfront that when this occurs, one of the parents will get up and take the child out of the meeting space to address the child’s concern.  This keeps the disruption to a minimum for the actual group and takes the disruption “off-line”.  Worst case is the parent can’t calm the child and they end up in the hall all evening with the child (hopefully not).  If the child can’t be calmed, it is better that the one parent “miss the meeting time” vs. the entire group “missing the meeting” by default because a crying/loud child is the center of attention in the middle of the group meeting all evening.

Again, if you agree upfront with your group that this is how you will handle child interruptions, then the group won’t be put on the spot of having to ask the parent later to please leave the room with the child which can generate hurt feelings.  You can emphasize with couples that they need to decide BEFORE they get to the meeting which one of them will get up and leave the room with the child if there is a problem.  This is important because confusion between the mother and father when the child disrupts the meeting simply adds to the confusion (and frustration) of both the parents and the group members.

 

9.    People’s expectations for the group are different. 

Different folks want different things for the group, e.g. more study, more social time, etc…  How should I handle this?

When your group confirms its covenant, discuss your group’s “character” focus for the period of the covenant.  Use the explanation below to help them gain an understanding of what the group is going to be like vs. what they make wish it was (exactly!) like in their mind.

A group’s character will vary by group just like it does with various individuals.  As your group starts up, the leader will primarily set the “starting character” for the group.  As a new group begins, the biggest character focus is going to be on fellowship, sharing each others stories, and getting to know one another.  There will intentionally be less focus on Bible study (though there will be some).  This is because people need time to start “belonging” in the group before they will really be able to start “believing” and then ultimately “behaving” as God desires.  Here is a way to explain this to your group: 

·         Draw a pie with 3 slices.  Make half the pie one slice and label it “Connect”.  Make the next slice about 2/3’rds of the remaining portion and label it “Grow”.  Finally, label the smallest slice “Serve”. 

·         Explain that your group is focusing its meeting time as it starts up on getting people to “connect” with one another so they develop a sense of belonging.  That is why that slice is the biggest.  Explain that the group is also reading some scripture, listening to teaching, and discussing things so that the group can “grow” in its belief about God.  The medium size slice represents this.  Finally, explain that the group is serving one another as they participate in the group and this represents the “behave” slice showing that they are acting like Jesus as they encourage one another, care for each others kids, bring refreshments, etc…  The smallest piece of the pie represents this.  It is the smallest but still an important part of the group’s “character”.

·         Let everyone know that each individual person should also consider their own personal “pie” and they will find that the pieces are likely different than that of the overall group (the one you drew).  Let them know this is ok and they should be aware of “where they are coming from personally” so they can contribute to the group in that way but also respect the focus of the group.

·         Ask them to each be willing to develop the other areas of their “pie” even if they don’t personally have a lot of focus on that area right now.  For example, they may want deeper Bible study personally so they can “grow” more but they can focus for now on developing friendships with folks in the group and at the same time share deeper answers to the questions as they feel led to do so during the discussion. This will stretch them and also contribute to the group but it won’t compromise the focus of the group as depicted by the pie slices for the group during this important “start-up” time.

·         Here is a tool you can use to help your group see the group’s “pie focus” while also helping them understand their own personal “pie focus”: Expectations Assessment.

 

10. Some people want to invite their friends to the group.

People want to invite their friends to our group, but some are saying we should be “closed”, what should I do?

Our groups at Crossroads are open groups.  This means we are always open to God intersecting our lives with others and inviting them into our group.  However, there is a time or a season that a group might “close” for a period.  Examples of this include when a group is newly formed or if someone in the group is in crisis.  The approach to take when someone wants to invite someone to the group is to agree upfront that members will bring such a desire before the group before they invite the friend.  This honors the group.  Then, the group agrees to always do whatever possible to allow new folks into the group unless there is a special time or season that the group agrees should keep the group closed for a period.  If a group decides this, they should agree also on when the group will once again go back to a baseline of being open. 

In general, all groups should have a default of being open.  They should only close in these special circumstances.  Remember to explain to your group that the early church had over 3000 new believers join their church and their small groups in ONE day!  Do you think they had a challenge trusting that God would take care of them and help both their groups and the individuals in those groups experience good small group life?  Yes they did I’m sure!  Your group members can trust God to bring the right folks along people’s path and then invite them into your group whenever possible.  If your group ever has over 14 adults in a circle for a meeting, all you have to do is break into two smaller groups for the discussion and prayer time.  No problem!  As long as you keep sub-grouping like this (and have space in the house to meet), you can invite as many people to your group as you’d like!

 

11. I feel like I’m doing all the work! 

How do I get my group members to share in the responsibilities of the group?

Remind folks that everyone has a role to play – see the Participant Guide: http://www.crfsmallgroups.org/GroupLinkParticipantGuide.pdf

Have folks sign-up for different roles (if they don’t, indicate the role won’t take place, e.g. no refreshments that night if no one signs up): http://www.crfsmallgroups.org/GroupLinkSignupSheet.pdf.

 

12. My group needs to develop better healthy interaction.

How do I get my group members to promote an environment that is caring, safe, authentic, growing, and helpful to one another?

Use the following assessment tool to help your group determine how well the group is doing in these areas and how they would like to contribute themselves personally to making the group more healthy: http://www.crfsmallgroups.org/SGHealthyHabitsAssessment.PDF