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Tony Brooks: How to Start Small Groups to Complement Sunday School

Posted: 9/12/18 at 9:50am. Post by Tony Brooks.

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

Starting small groups is essential in this day and age for discipleship to be effective for our churches.

There are many people who work on Sunday. Others are involved with their children with traveling teams. Sunday School cannot carry the burden of disciple-making! What is our first step to start small groups?

  1. Know your “why!”Jim Ailor, a friend and former colleague, suggests in his book, Life Boats, Friends with Purpose: A Guidebook for Small-group Ministry in Small Church(p. 8), that the scripture I quoted above is the key. We are to spur or provoke one another toward love and good deeds. Attending worship alone is not enough!
  1. Know your target group.Small groups are not started just to get someone in them. What is your target group? Knowing your target group helps you to know which type of small group you need. Is it needs-based, hobby-based or geographically based? What do your people need?
  1. According to Ken Howerton, there are four different types of small groups.At a small group conference that I attended two years ago, he suggested four elements in small groups, one of which should be the major focus:

Theological: This is the biblical/doctrinal studies piece to a small group. If this is your major focus of the four elements, the majority of the time will be on biblical or doctrinal studies. Sunday School is an example of a small group that focuses on this element.

Relational: This is the community building piece. If your main focus is building community with new people or unchurched people, the relational element should be the most important. This may start as a normal dinner party or hobby with a group (For example: traveling ball teams, golfing group, book club…etc.) You will want to be intentional about taking the temperature of the group spiritually, relationally, and missionally at some point to see if you need to move to one of the other foci (which could be a year later).

Restorational: As you build community, you may discover human needs that need to be addressed with a new group to restore persons to wholeness. This could be a grief support group, divorce recovery group, single parenting group, families of suicide group…etc. It is addressing people where they are and helping them move toward the “abundant life” Christ offers.

Missional: This is the motivational piece of disciple making. We are called to make disciples. In all four groups, we are purposefully mentoring others. In this type of group, the purpose is to mentor others in the group for a year. After a year, they should start their own group to mentor.

If you want to learn all of the essentials join us for this Small Group Discipleship Conference.

Brooks-TonyTony Brooks is our Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist and Field Strategist for the Southside Region. You may email him at tony.brooks@bgav.org. Follow Tony on Twitter: @TonyBrooks7