Monday, April 29, 2013

What Do Small Group Pastors Do?, Pt 2


Asking good questions as a small group point person is more important than finding the right answers. In my experience, there many "right" answers when it comes to how we develop small groups. But if we are asking the wrong questions then we can very easily be led down a fruitless path.

In his book, Community, Peter Block writes about the kind of life that brings transformation to neighborhoods. He writes, “The small group is the unit of transformation and the container for the experience of belonging.” This transformation is both personal and societal. Throughout his book, he consistently makes a strong argument proving “authentic transformation does not occur by focusing on changing individuals” but by creating environments where small groups of people can generate an alternative future for the social fabric of a neighborhood. To put it in the language of Jesus, the Kingdom of God comes through a group of people who are willing to embody the good news and manifest that good news in the everyday life of local neighborhoods.

Block opens the first chapter of his book with these words: “Social fabric is created one room at a time. It is formed from small steps that ask, ‘Who do we want in the room?’ and, ‘What is the new conversation that we want to occur?’ ” These questions generate conversations about creating an alternative future or a group of people who live in a distinctively different way compared to one’s cultural norms. They are questions that require little communities to come up with their own answers instead of implementing a program that has been orchestrated from the top down or borrowed from a book from a mega church. In other words, these are questions that force groups to seek God and discover along the way what the Spirit is saying to the church.

The kinds of questions that we need to ask fall into two categories. The first are the common questions that focus on hard data of external factors. The second set of questions are much harder to ask because they focus on soft data that relates to the life that is going on in groups.

Hard Data Questions:
Questions about the entire group system might include:
  • How many groups does your church have? 
  • How many people are in groups? 
  • What percentage of your church is in groups? 
  • How many of your groups multiplied in the last year?
  • How many new groups have formed in the last year?
Individual groups or group leaders are challenged with normal questions like:
  • How many people are in your group? 
  • How many people attended your meeting this week? 
  • How many people have you reached for Jesus? 
  • What is your plan for group multiplication? 
  • Who are you mentoring to be a future group leader?

Soft Data Questions: 
Theses questions fall into three categories, Communion with God, Relating in Love to One Another, and Engagement with our Neighborhoods
  • To what degree are our groups experiencing God’s presence when they gather together?
  • What specific actions are individuals taking to simplify their lives so that they have time to share in community life with others?
  • What kinds of sacrifices are people making to be shaped by God for leadership?
  • How are people who are not Jesus followers experiencing the presence of God through the group?
  • How are groups working through conflict and difficult relational situations?
  • How frequently are people within groups sharing meals together outside of official meetings?
  • How are group members sacrificing their personal priorities for the sake of other people in the group?
  • How are people who are not Jesus followers experiencing the relationships that are distinct from the world through the group?
  • How are groups being led to minister outside of predetermined expectations, and meet needs spontaneously?
  • How are people using their money in unique ways to invest in redemption?
  • How are groups and individuals investing in relationships in their neighborhoods?
  • How are groups and individuals embracing the poor and seeking to bring redemption to the social outcasts?
  • How are people who are not Jesus followers encouraged to participate in the process of serving the world together? 
(This material is adapted from my book MissioRelate, pages 74-80.)

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