236 – Classic Edition: How to Lead a Weekly Men’s Small Group
Classic Edition: How to Lead a Weekly Men’s Small Group
February 24, 2015
Few things have changed my life like the small groups I have been in over the last 30 years. Currently I’m in a leaders’ discipleship group and, for 25 years, a weekly one-on-one meeting for fellowship and prayer. The most intense learning, growth, sharing, encouragement, accountability, prayer, and fellowship I’ve experienced has taken place in small groups.
However, most men’s small groups peter out. Ironically, the same small group that can bring about great change is also fragile to sustain.
The goal is to “create, capture, and sustain disciples.” How can we overcome inertia? To make disciples we need momentum–we must “create, capture, and sustain momentum.” So what’s the secret? The secret of momentum is to “create, capture, and sustain value.”
I would like to show you how small groups open the door to creating, capturing, and sustaining all three–disciples, momentum, and value.
THE CASE: WHY SMALL GROUPS?
Jesus used a small group to create momentum. Jesus launched his divine plan to redeem mankind by making disciples out of a small group. Impressive. The question, of course, is why would he do that? Why a small group?
Jesus knew that most meaningful change takes place in the context of small group relationships–men sharpening men with truth, encouraging each other for the daily battle, and sticking with each other over the long haul.
Small groups date to the 17th century, when Philip Jacob Spencer (1635-1705), the father of German Pietism, initiated a series of reforms. Central to his method was the collegia pietatis–“small groups” for Bible study, prayer, and intimacy–intended to renew a staid and arid church.
Even secularists understand the value of small groups. Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt the power of a small group of people to change the world. That’s about the only way it has ever happened in the past.”
Today, despite the “gospel saturation” in America, only 8 million of 98 million men are involved in any kind of ongoing discipleship. The main method of Jesus has fallen into disuse–it has lost momentum.
That is tragic, because Mission Number One of Christian service is to make (create, capture, sustain) disciples. Often we are so busy treating symptoms–marital problems, wayward children, gossip, ethical failures, apathy, backbiting, etc.–that we never treat the root disease.
This is like treating cancer with morphine. It takes away the pain for a moment, but does nothing to cure the patient. God wants to bring men to full maturity in Christ. Making “small groups” a core value can create the momentum to get you where you want to go.
HOW TO FORM A GROUP
1. First, make a list of men you might like to have in your group. Figure you need to ask two men for every slot in your group. Pray over their names. Ask God to give you names you might not ordinarily think of.
2. Next, decide what kind of group you want to lead. You could wait and make a group decision, but it will likely fall apart. Leaders lead–and men like that. There are many different types of small groups (after each type I have offered a suggested size, but this is an art not a science): Bible Studies (6 to 12 men–remember, 12 is a number that’s been successfully used before); Discussion Groups (4 to 8 men); Support Groups: specific issues like addictions (6 to 12 men); Prayer Groups (2 to 6 men); Accountability Groups (4 men); Fellowship Groups (2 to 8 men); Mentoring Groups (2 to 4 men); Mission Groups: service projects (5 or more men).
3. Decide when and where you want to meet. Friday mornings are good because most men try to be back in town by then, and it’s often a catch up day. If all your men are from the same church, meet on Sunday, on Wednesday evenings, or one morning during the week at the church.
4. Next, invite the men to an informational meeting to discuss the small group. Pick the time, place, and stick to one hour. As you invite them… “
The first meeting is informational…
Here are some hard learned lessons about leading an effective discussion….
Bible Studies: If you have the time, aptitude, and interest you can develop your own curriculum. If not, try the Man in the Mirror Weekly Bible Study.You can get it free online at www.maninthemirror.org or purchase the monthly CDs in the Small Group Partnership. Watch or listen to the message, then discuss the questions. The CDs also have transcripts if you want to teach.
Workbooks: Man in the Mirror offers a broad selection for small groups, from the Getting to Know the Man in the Mirror Workbook to our 6 Week Life Plan series. You can learn more about them on our website under “Resources.”
Book Studies: One of the most effective ways to start a small group is to study a book with discussion questions in each chapter. We offer my books and a growing list of best of class books from other authors to select from.
Accountability Groups: Order wallet sized accountability cards ($8 for 100 cards) by calling 407-472-2100 ext. 118. Also, in “ALM archives” on our website check out #9, “How to Have An Accountability Group” in both English and Spanish.
WHAT MAKES A GROUP LAST?
Value is what makes a group last. Every time a man shows up, he has decided not to do something else. Most men have many choices, so your small group has to meet the “real and felt needs test” or it won’t last.
So what do men find valuable? Life can be brutal. Every day men must manage their lives against the Fall. Because life is so hard, men need to be encouraged. They need a hug from God. They need the human touch. And this, while wearing the skin of a loner.
The mega-answer? Care. Caring creates, captures, and sustains value, momentum, and disciples. Men will come if they sense you really care about them. If they don’t, they will eventually drift away–but rarely tell you why.
You will know you have succeeded when you hear men saying: “I really feel like my group cares about me personally;” “The leader makes sure I get a chance to air my thoughts;” and “I cannot believe how my life is changing.”
Study the Bible with Pat! Start a group using the Weekly Video Bible Study and sign up here.