This past year I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with an amazing Groups Pastor in Canada, Lorie Hartshorn. Both Steve Gladen and myself were at this conference. Lorie had requested time to, “pick our brains.” It didn’t take but a few minutes for me to realize that I wanted to learn from her. One of the topics she enthralled me with was their connection strategy. After hearing it, I wanted to make you aware of it so I asked her to do a guest blog post.
Read slowly and carefully. Her connection strategy is not new to the groups world but how she has tweaked it and the terminology she’s using is seriously genius!
As the overseer of many Connect Groups at our church www.c4church.com I was faced with 2 challenges. One of which was to find leaders and the other to encourage everyone to participate when in a group setting which creates healthy groups. I was inspired by my coaching with Mark Howell www.markhowelllive.com to use an On Campus strategy to help start new groups! http://www.markhowelllive.com/take-advantage-of-this-short-term-on-campus-strategy/
So I called our On Campus strategy Group Launch and we invited people that were not yet in a group to come and experience a group right at the church. The greatest part of this endeavor was that I had no designated leaders! Yup! You heard that right, no pre-assigned leaders at the tables! We didn’t even know who would come and if they had ever been in church before yet alone been in a small group.
So I dug into my arsenal of tricks from my years of teaching and came up with an idea that I used in the classroom when I would put kids in groups. I created a little ‘card game-like’ resource and came up with a brilliant title – Group Role Cards! Nothing is rocket science…it just feels that way until you have a little help.
So here’s what Group Role Cards can do to help you find leaders, as well, to teach people how to contribute in a group. I now use these Group Role Cards, with some adjustments, in my existing Connect Groups. We are finding that this is helping even long time groups refresh and engage everyone during their group time.
Each group has a small business card holder tray of cards. Each card has a group role indicated on one side of the card and a brief description of that role on the back of the card. Each member of the group selects a card each meeting and depending on the card they pick that is their role for that meeting. They can pick a different role each week if they like to ‘try them all on’. This enables each person to see that everyone needs to contribute and that there are various ways to do that.
As the weeks go on it is interesting to watch who picks what card. The potential leaders often pick the GUIDE, ENCOURAGER or PRAYER PERSON cards. I have also found that you can discover the spiritual gifts of people based on the role that they most enjoy . The SERVANT often end’s up being the one to open their home to the group as they move from an On Campus Group to a Home Group as their next step and the CONNECTOR is often the group administrator.
Here are the roles that I came up with – you could use mine or make up a role that better fits your group dynamics.
GUIDE Read the discussion questions to the group and keep the conversation going.
PRAYER PERSON Open in prayer. Decide how the group will do the prayer and sharing time. (split into smaller groups, large group, groups of 3-4 etc.)
NOTE: I didn’t use a Prayer Person card at Group Launch initially as the Group Launch Host would direct groups as to what to do in prayer time. Recognizing that we had many people that had never been to church or been in a group, we started off by leading prayer from the front and then as the weeks went by we helped them prayer in 2’s or 3’s etc. We had several people come to Jesus at Group Launch!!
ENCOURAGER Help each person have an opportunity to contribute to the group discussion by passing around the mascot
SERVANT Make sure each person has a refreshment or snack
TIME KEEPER Monitor how long your group spends on each discussion question, encouraging them to move on (unless life changing things are being shared)
CONNECTOR Have people share contact info as the weeks go by to stay in touch throughout the week.
CONTRIBUTORS Be sure to share your thoughts and questions during discussion time. (Multiples of this card)
So there you have it! Find leaders and grow healthy groups all with the help of a little tool!
Cheering you on!
Connections Pastor at www.c4church.com
Speaker and Author of FINDING FREEDOM a DVD study on Spiritual warfare and prayer www.loriehartshorn.com