In recent weeks, we’ve looked at three critical questions for small group ministry planning:
1. Why are we doing small groups?
2. What will our small groups do?
3. Who will we involve in small groups?
4. Will we keep an open chair?
5. What will our groups not do?
6. Who must we find?
7. Commitment – Do we anticipate low requirement?
Next on our list is another important decision for leaders:
8. Content – What will the group do?
When planning your small groups, determining the specifics of each group ahead of time can prove very important. First, we have already determined if this is a content group or one that prioritizes relationships. But if content is even a secondary consideration, then how will that content be chosen?
Will the church prescribe the curriculum? If content is primary, answer should be “yes.” If the church doesn’t choose the curriculum, will approval of the content be required? Frankly, this is generally a good idea for groups of all types.
Another functional question asks, will the leader be a teacher or facilitator? Either choice means training is needed, but a teacher’s training requires more extensive effort. A teacher will need to approach expert status in the material and may need to be able to handle questions on a wider scale. A facilitator will need to learn how to generate healthy discussion, but can rely on the video or book to answer questions. Facilitators aid the group in working through the material. They are not the presenters.
Another important decision concerns childcare. How will group members’ children be provided for? It’s generally a good idea to make each group responsible for their own plan. If you try to provide a secondary plan for childcare for all of your groups, the challenge will quickly become a lot to manage. Groups can arrange for a childcare provider and share the cost. If no plan is made for children, the group will struggle as people typically won’t pay a babysitter for multiple weeks.
Will there be food? Who will plan for that? How will the materials be purchased and who will cover the cost? Members of high requirement groups typically buy their own material, but deciding up front can help avoid confusion later.
As you can see, there’s a number of issues to think through when planning a small group. Think through these issues and any others that arise as you plan a typical meeting. The more questions you answer in the planning phase, the more quickly group members can understanding and adapt.