This is not rocket science. But often small group meetings tend to become like little church services. The people watch as one person (the small group leader) does all the talking (sometimes even with a pulpit!). Or there is a material, and everybody is just engaged with it — but not with each other! Relationships flounder. Everyone becomes superficial. Sadly many small group meetings end up as — well, just man-centered gatherings for man-centered (or institution oriented) purposes. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to move freely during the meeting, where each person becomes a “teacher” through one-another behaviors, the small group leader tries to control everything that’s going on. The result? A dead or boring meeting.
There is a way of facilitating the small group meeting without controlling it. Just Five P’s will do the trick. After formally welcoming everyone, and praying for God’s will and purpose to be accomplished during the meeting, follow this simple Five P’s agenda.
- Praise Items – Ask each one what they are thankful for. Begin positively by allowing each person to share their experiences and their feelings regarding those experiences. Let the others respond by rejoicing with the person sharing. Sometimes this may be a good time to worship together or to pray spontaneously. Let the Holy Spirit guide the group as to what would be the best response to all the thanksgivings and praises.
- Personal Insights – Challenge your small group members to train themselves by availing of equipping tools. Let them study these tools outside of or before your small group meeting, not during. Two materials that are easily available (because they are FREE) and are very useful for discipleship are: 1) Multiply by Francis Chan and 2) Who is my Neighbor by Steve Moore. Of course, the weekly sermons can be a good source of equipping also. Seminars, conferences and books can also help in discipleship. But learnings from these resources can be carried over to the next item in the meeting agenda.
- Personal Progress Report – Let each person share their progress in the journey of faith so far. To give this direction, use a guide. This guide will be for each individual and not for the whole group. Everyone is being discipled in a unique way by the Holy Spirit, and according to his or her life situation. Therefore, let each person share his or her unique journey of faith and let the others respond spontaneously as the Spirit leads. This is a more enriching approach and it allows the Holy Spirit to move freely in and through each member of the group. (For an example of such a guide, click here.)
- Plans – Now let each person share what they plan to do to continue seeking the kingdom of God in the following days after the small group meeting. This gives each person the freedom as well as the responsibility to pursue their own calling. No need to reprimand each other, especially if there is no plan to share. But when others are sharing their plans, sooner or later everybody will be motivated to come up with their own plans. Encourage one another to be proactive in their Christian walk.
- Prayer Requests – Let each one share their prayer needs and pray for each other accordingly. Let the Lord move freely during this time. He may choose to heal or convict someone in the group. Let this be a time of waiting upon the Lord and trusting Him to move and do His mighty work. You can also sing or worship the Lord, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to do so. Be sensitive and follow His lead.
After this Five P’s, it would be good to share any announcements for the group. Any administrative details can be shared. When all these is done, the group can end formally through a closing prayer. People may choose to linger on, and that’s okay. Closing the meeting in prayer gives permission to those who may want to go home already to leave without embarrassment.
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