What type of small group is to be held?What is the primary aim?To introduce people to Jesus Christ or to take existing believers on their next steps?
Who is the group to reach-youth,young marrieds,parents,men,women or mixed?
A number of groups gather around a common interest eg. A sport,fitness,walking,cooking,gardening or motorbikes.The activity is an opportunity to make new connections and form friendships.However the main goal should be kept in focus-to make disciples.If not the small group will only exist as another social group.Pray for openings during conversions to share Jesus.Time could be allotted for a short testimony to be shared.Real,relevant and declaring the Good News of Jesus.The idea is people to share teir story and Gods story.
Most groups that involve teaching are curriculim based with accompanying DVD and workbook.These type of groups are primarily held in homes but can also take place in a hall,coffee shop or restaurant.
A Typical Format Of A Home Group –
A welcoming atmosphere is created in the home.Clean and tidy with minimal distractions.Each guest greeted with a hug/handshake and smile.
ICEBREAKER-This is good particularly for the first group meeting or when newcomers attend.They are warm ups to put everyone at ease and to feel at home.The aim is that everyone says something.They are questions that reveal a little about you.
What is your name and where are you from?
Where did you live between the age of 8 and 12?
What winds you up and what helps you unwind?
What movie or book has impacted your life?
What is the worst or best thing that has happened to you this week?
If you could be an electric appliance what would it be and why?
Icebreakers do not have to be introduced at every group meeting.
Time spent focusing on God and not each other.Moving from thinking of the distractions of the day or week to being still before Him.Worship may include-
Singing a song(s) together
Listening to a worship song
Time given for each to thank or praise God for something.
Each speak out in turn an attribute of God that means a lot personally to them
A simple prayer or opportunity for a few to pray.
Avoid asking anyone to pray unless you have asked them privately beforehand.
A DVD teaching session lasting 15-30minutes is sufficient leaving room for a discussion and interaction.The aim is not just to listen to a Bible teacher but to take what is taught and apply it to our lives.To listen and learn from each other.
LEADING A GOOD DISCUSSION
-The Group Leaders objective is not to do all the talking but for evryone to participate.(30%70%).Listening to all without interrupting.
-Ask open ended questions.
-Applying the message.What does this mean to me?What did I get out of this?What is my next step?How does this affect me?
-Don`t be fraid of silences.People also need time to think through.Encourage quieter members to participate.Ask them what they think or have they a view?Without pressure quiet group members will share when comfortable through time.
-Avoid the discussion getting side tracked and keep to the message/topic in hand.
-Avoid controversial subjects/topics.
-Handle a dominating group member by suggesting to the-`Thank you for sharing.Shall we ask xxxx what their experience or thoughts are?`Alternatively turn from them and direct your attention to another group member and ask them by name – `Would you like to give your thoughts on this?`
The aim is for every member to have the opportunity to share and we learn from each other.Each of us have different insights and experiences in life.
Time to wrap up.Conclude with a prayer or give opportunity for a few to pray.
Water-hot or cold.Tea or coffee.Some lite bites.
WHEN?The typical length of a small group meeting would be 1 – 1 1/2 hours.There is no hard and fast rule but it is good for group members to be leaving wanting to come back for more,rather than exhausted looking home.Also the time for refreshments is an opportunity if some have to leave earlier if they desire due to eg. family or early start for work.
When it comes to worshipping God corporately as His church Christians have often debated on whether it should be to a set pattern and plan or left open and spontaneous.As individuals should we have set times or prayer like first thing in the morning or just pray as we live life such as when driving the car or as needs arise.Why not both? Worship which is scheduled and spontaneous.Here is a parallel…It is important for husbands and wives as their lives become busy to set aside time to be together alone.Hectic lifestyles develop with work,kids,house and hobbies so it`s necessary for couples to have time for each other.Date nights for continued friendship,fun,communication and intimacy.A time to show worth and value to the other and not allowing other things or people get in between and cause a distant relationship.Believers who love God with all their heart and follow Jesus Christ soo too should spend time alone with Him.Don`t allow others or things cause our relationship with Him become distant.God first.Show Him value and worth settting time to be alone with Him.Worship God not just in the company of others eg church but alone.Intimate fellowship with Him-speaking,hearing,seeing and sometimes just being in His presence.We call it sometimes personal devotion or `quiet time` but it`s time alone one to one.
Back to the parallel – for a couple however set date nights can become just a routine and another thing on the calendar.For couples it is so important to have those spontantaneous times when off the cuff they do something together.Seizing the moment,springing a surprise,going or doing something not been or done before.Quite often those spontaneous intimate times together are remembered and cherished as special.In our relationship with God we too will remember those spontaneous times when we get alone with God.A time when we walk in the woods and talk,lift an instrument play and sing new songs,shout aloud to God on top of a mountain or suddenly stop the car and begin to write down what He says to us.Unplanned and unsheduled but prompted by a desire within for intimate worship.
Corporately when the church meets leaders lead worship having prepared,ready and planned hymns and spiritual songs.I`ve learned God directs our plans when we invite Him to give us wisdom and direction but also we need to give Him space.There are times for the spontaneous allowing the Spirit to do as He wills,making room for gifts of the Spirit.Such moments produce new songs and a “now” Word from God.Specific for the moment.
In our worship of God both individualy and corporately make room for the scheduled and spontaneous in our lives.Enjoy the benefits and priviledge of knowing Him.
In my late teens speaking to a church group in Tilbury, East London I remember outlining valid ways in which to express praise and worship to God.I gave Biblical examples of singing,shouting,clapping,lifting hands,playing musical instruments,bowing,dancing and leaping for joy.Afterwards an elderly woman approached me and commented,`Son it was good to hear Scriptural encouragement to express praise God in various ways but….` and I waited for the `but`….she continued`when you are in love with Jesus you will automatically express praise to God in those varying ways anyway.`It hit me ! I was trying to encourage and justify ways to express praise to God.I learned a lesson not to forget `Worship flows from a love relationship`.You do not have to encourage or prompt `the Kop` at Anfield to sing,shout and clap for Liverpool.The fans do it because they are passionate about football and their team.When you fall in love with someone you want to be in their presence,praise and show acts of kindness towards them.No wonder Jesus taught that the greatest and most important commandment is `to love God with all your heart,soul and mind and to love others` Matt.22:37-40 Deut.6:5 Acts of worship are to be carried out from a heart of desire and not out of duty.Believe in Jesus?The love of God has been poured into your heart. Rom.5:5. Love Him passionately and a life of worship will follow.Worship flows from a love relationship not a routine ritual.It is easy to respond to the love of someone and God loves you with an unmeasurable , unending and unmerited love.I love Him because He first loved me. 1John4:19. Jesus desires His people to open up their hearts and have fellowship with Him. Rev.3:20 ; John14:23 In a husband and wife relationship there are planned times to be alone together and to show affection but those spontaneous intimate moments are even more special.So too in our love relationship with God there is both a place for planned and spontaneous worship.It is not about our performance but our passsionate love for Him.He is the centre of our affections.Delight in the Lord.
SEE GOD: Ezekiel the priest was among those taken captive by the Babylonians and sitting by the river he had visions of God.God revealed Himself in all His glory-Almighty,Awesome,Alive,All seeing and a Covenant keeping God.Ezekiel 1.Moses saw Gods goodness,grace and compassion when the glory of the Lord past before him.EX.33:12-23. Stephen when being stoned to death gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father.ACTS7:55. Jesus is the Light,Gods glory,full of grace and truth. JN1:6-18.No matter what captivity,calamity,or circumstance you find yourself in God will reveal Himself to you.Turn your focus on Him. Continue reading SEEING GOD MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.
Do you believe everything is all right as long as you have got your place of worship and attend it regularly? Gods people in Jeremiahs day believed that because they had the Temple of God and brought their offerings of worship the invading Babylonians would not destroy them nor God punish them.However Jeremiah warned them that as in the past (Shiloh 1SAM.4:10,11) because of their wickedness God would remove the place of worship and His presence.They could not trust in the Temple and bring their offerings yet at the same time steal,murder,commit adultery and worship other gods. Continue reading Do not trust your place of worship! Jeremiah 7.