Small group life-cycle:  Maturity

 

STAGE 2:  MATURITY, GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

Typical duration - six months to several years

Group Focus - relationships, study, and mission

 

One day, you realize that the group has come together!  You have survived the infancy stage, so now the fun can begin.  Everyone is more relaxed and ready to grow.

 

CREATE A SAFE PLACE for people to open up and share needs in their lives.  Do this by effective use of "ice breaker" questions and by using relational questions with multiple answers during the Bible study.  These methods will "level the playing field" and allow those whose Bible knowledge is lacking to enter into the discussion.  If you want to involve people, ask questions that everyone can answer well - nobody wants to look dumb in front of the group.

 

                Bad question - Why was Paul's Roman citizenship an important factor in the way he was treated in prison in Philippi?

 

                Good question - How do you think Paul felt being thrown into prison for doing good (casting out   an evil spirit)?  When have you been mistreated for doing the right thing?

 

FORM SUBGROUPS.  Some discussion topics work better in groups of four.  Others work better when the sexes are separated.  Smaller groups allow for more intimacy and allow everyone to have their say.  Send one subgroup to the kitchen, another to the dining room, etc., and everyone will get to participate at a deeper level -- even the quiet members.

 

TEACH YOUR GROUP TO PRAY. Prayer time is one of the highlights of the meeting.  Pray for creative ways to make the prayer time meaningful.  After everyone has had a chance to voice prayers concerns, there are a number of ways to approach God with those concerns.  Initially, you may word the prayer yourself or call on someone whom you know to be capable to word it.  Most group leaders like to involve more members by having a chain prayer where everyone who wants to pray aloud is given the opportunity.  If the issue of women praying aloud is a concern, it should be a group and individual decision. 

 

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT CONNECTING.  Ask questions such as, "How are you?" "What has God been teaching you lately?" "Where have you seen God at work in your life and world?" "What burdens can we bear for each other?" "What cares can we cast upon the Lord?"

 

APPOINT A LEADER FOR EVERY RESPONSIBILITY.  You are now in the leader development business!  Identify every task that has to be accomplished and appoint someone to take the lead for each.  In addition to leadership positions we have already mentioned, consider a refreshments coordinator, childcare coordinator, worship leader, outreach coordinator, and recorder of prayer requests.

 

ENCOURAGE THE USE OF PROSPECT LISTS.  Occasionally take a few minutes of your meeting time to have members make or update their list of prospects that they would like to invite to group meetings.  Also, look for one person every Sunday that you can invite to your group.

 

KEEP GROWTH CONSTANTLY BEFORE THE GROUP by making use of the "empty chair."  Put a poster in an empty chair at your group meeting that says something like, "This empty chair is reserved for _____."  Use an erasable marker or sticky note to fill in the blank with the name or names of those your group is inviting.

 

APPOINT AN OUTREACH COORDINATOR within your group, someone who is growth conscious and will be a "cheer leader" for growth.  This might be your encourager.

 

HAVE YOUR ENCOURAGER remind members to invite and bring visitors during the weekly phone call.

 

HAVE A PARTY or event with the specific intent of inviting future members.

 

PRAY FOR GROWTH, both privately and in group meetings.