A friend of mine was reading a book recently and came across some information that made him think of me. Dr. Virgil Grant is the senior pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Richmond, Kentucky. He was reading a book by Rick Howerton entitled Destination: Community--Small Group Ministry Manual. Rick is a veteran small-group ministry specialist serving SerendipityHouse and LifeWay. In fact, Rick Howerton and another small-group ministry expert will be leading our Get Small training events in Georgetown and Bowling Green in April. Or read about the events in this blog post: One Way to Grow Your Church is to ’Get Small’.
Virgil came across a section of Rick's book on page 43 which is titled "TOP TEN LIST: Ten Questions Potential Small-Group Members Ask." Virgil thought of me because he wanted to suggest that the content of that list might make a good Super Saturday afternoon conference. And I agreed with him that revolutionary Sunday School classes need to think about what they are doing from the perspective of those who are not yet members. Thanks, Virgil, for your suggestion!
In this three-part series, I will share Rick's TOP TEN LIST. In Part 1, I will share the first three questions and will apply them to Sunday School and small group ministry. Rick's questions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- HOW MUCH OF MY TIME IS THIS GOING TO TAKE? Don't sell Sunday School/small group ministry short by telling them that group time is all the time that it will take. Share with them about fellowships and ministry projects. Be honest about expectations for group time preparation. Help unconnected people understand how they can benefit from participation in each aspect of the class/group ministry. Don't exaggerate or diminish expectations.
- WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH OUR CHILDREN DURING MEETINGS? Don't be surprised by this question, even when inviting unconnected people to participate in Sunday School groups. If they have children, you might want to address the question even if they don't ask. If your group meets during the week, there are several options. Some churches provide childcare at church or another location for their groups. Others expect the group to decide what will be done to provide childcare and/or teaching for their children. This may include childcare in the host home/location or another location at the expense of the group as a whole or the individuals with children. Some churches reimburse parents up to a set amount for childcare, but more and more churches are making this a group responsibility. Address this issue in advance and be prepared to answer these questions.
- WILL THERE BE HOMEWORK? IF SO, HOW MUCH? Do you expect members to pray for the group and for group time as well as to read a passage/lesson or do homework. Are occasional assignments made? Again, don't sell expectations short. Be honest about real expectations. You will be surprised at how high expectations are more attractive than low or no expectations. Some ask this question only to guage level of commitment and time. This question is likely not a make or break question that will determine their involvement--unless you expect five to ten hours each week.
There are many helpful sections in Rick's book like this one. For more about Rick's book, check out this blog post Launching a Small Group or a Small Group Ministry. Reach out to those who are unconnected to your groups. Are you listening to the questions people are asking about Sunday School/small groups? Stay aware. Help your teachers/group leaders to lead your groups to understand these concerns. Lead them to care. Be revolutionary!
For more information about small groups, check out these blog posts: