June 14, 2006

Small Group Project: Church #2

Sarah at Cedar Ridge Community Church was very gracious in letting me use her information. She recognizes that there is little information concerning small groups on the internet.

Church Denomination (if any) _N/A_____________
Avg. AM Worship Attendance 500-600
Age of Congregation 24 years

Number of pastors on staff One senior pastor, 2 part-time

1. Approximately what percentage of your regular attendees participates in at least one small group on a regular basis? What percentage is your church's goal?
We have about 24 or more groups, averaging at least 10 in each-so probably about 40% participation

2. How many worship services do you have each week? Please list when, where, and how well attended. 2; 9 & 11 AM; at least 200-300 people in each service.

3. Who is primarily responsible for oversight of your small group ministry (e.g., layperson(s), senior pastor, staff pastor, etc.)? Is this person or people paid or volunteer?
Director of Community Life; with supervision of senior pastor

4. What level of oversight does your small group ministry leadership team strive for? In other words, how consistent with your church's mission are the "official" small groups which meet?

5. Are there now, or have there ever been any problems associated with your small groups? Please elaborate.

6. If yes, how are those problems typically handled?

7. Do you provide initial or ongoing training for leaders of small groups? If yes, on a formal or informal basis? How often do you provide it? In what context?Currently, we do upfront orientation-style training and then on-the-job training quarterly which is more informal. We are working towards increasing intentionality towards leadership development

8. What kinds of requirements do you have for potential leaders before they are recognized as such? If you have "rogue" leaders who are not trained, how does your leadership team handle an issue like that? We try to get everyone to participate in the orientation at some point; otherwise, cultivate one-on-one relationships with those leading groups who have not been formally trained….currently working on determining what kinds of “expectations” to set for people leading small groups

9. What kind of small group curriculum does your church use, if any? How strictly is use of this particular curriculum is enforced? How so? How major of a concern is right theology in regards to small groups (compared to Christian fellowship and formation)? Sermon-based discussions; not mandatory; looking to see small groups as “application” over information so that the teaching comes from the church (Sunday message) in order to foster community throughout the church whereby small groups are focused more on thinking through the teaching and not responsible for doing the teaching…it’s a work in progress

10. What particular types of small groups does your church body officially recognize (e.g., service groups, Bible study, support, fellowship, accountability, 12-step program, etc.)? We’re aiming for groups that have a holistic focus---Love, grow, serve, spending time in each of these areas at some point in the group’s life…

11. How significant is the concept of small groups as compared to other components of your church’s overall ministry (e.g., worship services, evangelism, compassion, corporate prayer, etc.)?Growing support and importance of small groups as a major means to discipleship….not totally there yet…but it’s clear that the greatest number of people are involved in small groups over any other ministry.

12. Do your small groups primarily function as a means of evangelism to new believers, or discipleship to existing members? Why? How do you separate and/or incorporate these two goals within the small group context? Discipleship----however, part of the hope to get our groups all doing the sermon-based discussions is to create a point of conversation at which a mature believer and even a new or non-believer can discuss issues of faith coming from a similar point of reference, having just heard the same sermon. We’re encouraging groups to be inclusive and inviting…less of the “closed” small groups models…

13. Has your church always sponsored small groups? If not, what ministry or service (if any) was sacrificed or minimized in order to make room for small groups in the church community? How were they initiated? Were they promoted as necessary for the well being of the church, or as an "add-on" to an already full list of voluntary church activities? Small groups have always existed with varying degrees of staff leadership focused on them; they have been more of an add-on up until recently—they seem to be growing as a main emphasis….not sure what the implications on different ministries will be...I imagine there will be some downsizing in niche ministries in order to pull everyone together, capitalizing on our common-ground rather than what our differences are (men’s, women’s, young adults ministries, etc…) Really not sure what will happen.

14. What would you consider the primary reason that your church encourages and supports small groups? Small groups are where the church gets to be the church…it’s about living faith as a way of life…and small groups are a means to discipleship, care, love and empowering our community to serve the world . . .

15. What would you consider your most pressing concern in regards to small groups?
Identifying new leaders, training them up and nurturing them along the way…not a task for the faint-hearted.

16. How do you handle difficult situations that arise that might be too complex for lay leaders (e.g., personalities that attempt to sway new believers, dysfunctional relationships, stalking, etc.)? Do you require leaders and/or participants to sign a "covenant of confidentiality"? We don’t have them sign on the dotted line, but we encourage groups to uphold confidentiality; etc. We encourage leaders to refer troubled people to pastoral staff for counsel/direction. Generally, though, I’ve found that small groups books and materials make it seem like there are so many troubled people that are going to disrupt the groups and cause them to stray…I’m a believer in the power of God and in my people…and I have not witnessed this to be a recurring problem but, rather, quite isolated. Church leaders need to believe in their people---and stay in touch with their leaders.

17. Does your church currently host Sunday School classes for adults? Why or why not? In what ways does that potentially impact your small group ministry? Some classes on Sunday; we’re very limited on space, so this has not been a major emphasis. We are trying to emphasize living faith outside the doors of our church building, so classes have not been a major emphasis.

18. How are small groups defined in your church? What size do you consider to be a small group? When a "small group" becomes a "large group" is it divided, or allowed to continue to grow? If divided, how is that handled in a way that satisfies all parties and encourages positive growth? Our “small groups” are called Life Groups. They currently range in size from 8-15. Some groups manage to divide up, while many have existed for a long time…this is an ongoing discussion to which we don’t have a perfect approach.

19. In what ways does your church continue to promote and support the concept of small groups (e.g., website, newsletter, foyer advertising, announcements, etc.)? I try to make it an ongoing stream of information….lunches for groups, leaders, a newsletter about groups/community available to everyone in the church…story-sharing on Sundays…introducing new groups that are starting on Sunday mornings; visiting the groups and video-taping to put a “face on life groups” on Sunday morning….information available on the website, bulletin board with a map and information/resources in the lobby…

20. Based on your experience, what advice would you give to a church body that is contemplating adding small groups into its mix of community activities?
Be clear on the purpose for the groups. What level of senior pastoral support is given to groups? Does the senior pastor fully support and participate in a small group? Will it be promoted on Sunday mornings by the Senior Pastor?

Decide if it will be the main thing or an add-on thing and communicate this to the staff person or ministry leader in charge in order to minimize frustration. Will this person be working to get everyone in a group? Set realistic expectations based on the purpose of the groups and the level of senior leadership in support of them. Without senior pastoral leadership in full support of this ministry, it will always remain a mere menu item and not the central means to discipleship at a church.

What kind of resources, time, etc. do you have to train and develop leaders? Determine how you will do this in the most relational way possible because this is a highly relational ministry.

Determine what kind of person will implement the ministry; If it is the responsibility of one main individual, this person will need to be a balance of leadership and pastoral skills.

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