Graduate Your Small Group
your small group is a normal, and healthy, part of its life cycle. Here is how you can help lead your group
through this process.
First, assess where your group and
individual group members have been and where they seem to be going. This will help you understand if God is
leading your group to graduate. God will
confirm this in your heart as you act as a shepherd to your group in this way.
All small groups should have a graduation at least once per year. This helps the group proactively consider how
God is working and avoids complacency and having the group drift into a “bored
state” or having folks slowly stop attending.
Second, if you are sensing it is time for
your group to graduate, pray to God and seek His answer to the following
question: "What's next for the group and the individuals in the
group?" Consider each group member
individually. Consider the group as a
whole. Every group graduates
periodically to their "next step".
This is what you are sensing, and what God is preparing you for, if you
hear Him saying, “It’s time to Graduate your
group!” ALL groups do this at different
points but they ALL go through this life cycle step. So, your group is healthy and normal in this
regard if is ready to graduate (just in case you were thinking something must
be wrong with your group for this to happen!).
Here are the typical steps to the
leader announces a special group meeting called a
"Graduation". At the
meeting the group celebrates the group's past and considers the group's
future. At this meeting two
questions are discussed:
- Celebrate: How has God blessed you, grown you,
and/or used you as a part of this group?
How has this group been special to you?
- Consider: What is your personal next step for
staying connected to the body of Christ?
Is it continuing with this group?
Is it moving on to something else God is calling you to?
- At the
end of this meeting the group has a special prayer time and the leader
declares the group graduated. The
leader then encourages everyone in the group to pray for confirmation over
what God's next steps are for them.
They’ve had a chance to share their hearts on this. Now they simply
need some time to have God’s confirmation of what they are sensing. Are they sensing God wants them to
continue on with a re-launch of this group or is He leading them to find a
place of connection elsewhere?
- It is
very important for the leader emphasize that either of the directions
described in #2 above is fine, and good, and that folks should not to feel
bad if they hear God calling them to another point of connection (e.g.
maybe they decide to be involved in some other group they are already
ministering with). The group wants
to affirm everyone’s personal decision for what they decide to do. This is important so that everyone in
the group, regardless of where they end up, will feel comfortable saying a
genuine “hello” to one another when they see each other and not feel
guilty and try to avoid one another.
This is especially important for those that decide to move on and
not re-launch with the existing group.
- After the
meeting, the leader then hears back from folks (typical response deadline
of 1 week is reasonable) and helps those moving on (if they need help) get
connected elsewhere and lays out a plan for a re-launch of the group for
any folks that decide to continue on in the group. The folks returning to the group began
discussing a re-launch and what new folks they want to join them. The group then starts a new "life
cycle"! The group’s life
starts over again!
a Small Group.