Small Groups sensitive groups by benbenzhou


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									                                             Small Groups
Research verifies that holistic small groups are one of the characteristics of healthy congregations.
New Hope Church makes a variety of small groups available to the congregation and to the
community. Other groups will be formed when there is interest and leadership.

A Christian small group is an intentional face-to-face gathering of 3-12 people on a regular
schedule with a common purpose of discovering and growing in the possibilities of the abundant
life in Christ. Small groups are not just for some spiritually mature folks who know all the
answers but they are for those who want to grow and mature in their faith journey.

Small groups come together around a common purpose. Our people choose to join a group, they
are not assigned. This does not work. Usually a group will meet weekly. Twice a month
meetings will keep the group growing; once a month meeting are minimal requirements for
keeping a group alive. Small groups are an excellent place for young Christians to mature.

Small groups become an accepting, listening, loving, supporting, challenging, probing, praying,
learning, and healing community. Members of small groups grow in their relationship with each
other and in their relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. A small group is a place to be
authentic and real.
                                         Steps to Begin a Small Group
1.  Determine your purpose. What do you want to accomplish in this small group experience? What
    needs do you want to meet? What results do you hope for? What do you want to do?
2. Recruit one or two partners. Discuss with them your ideas for a small group. Ask them if they would
    like to be involved.
3. Discuss your idea with the appropriate leaders in your church. Ask for suggestions and consider
    possible resources and materials.
4. Pray and plan together. Define your purpose. Think about possible participants. Search for
    resources to help you accomplish your purpose. Decide on timing. How long will each meeting be?
    How many weeks will the group meet?
5. Decide on a time and place for the first meeting. Set the date several weeks in advance to give
    people time to plan.
6. Invite people to join the group. Invite more people than you want in the group so that you will have a
    good size even if some turn you down. Share the purpose of the group as you invite people. Be honest;
    be positive.
7. Determine your group pattern. Will one person lead the meeting each week? Will different people
    lead different parts of the meeting under the direction of an overall co-coordinator? Or will a different
    person lead each week?
8. Choose resources or the methods you will use. What section of Scripture will you study? How will
    you approach it? Will you use a printed guide? Will everyone have copies?
9. Plan and conduct your first meeting. Emphasize building relationships and discuss the purpose of the
    group and the length of the contract period.
10. Evaluate the first meeting and decide on future directions. Pray for those who came. Contact any
    who did not arrive who were expected. Encourage each other. Plan next week’s meeting. Ask others
    to help as needed.
     Using the Bible in Groups by Roberta Hestenes (Westminister Press)
                              Eight Covenant Goals for Small Groups
Covenant goals are an expression of our life in Christ and individuals cannot reach their potential unless
they are an active member of a group. Our life and strength flow from Him; therefore, we can take joy in
His presence and express what He is accomplishing in our group as a member of it.

His Word is our guide to all of life and, therefore, it should be used as the foundation of all our teaching. It
is out of His Word that we identify the following covenant dynamics:

    1.   The Covenant of Affirmation (unconditional love, agape love): There is nothing you have done or
         will do that will make me stop loving you. I may not agree with your actions, but I will love you
         as a person and do all I can to hold you in God’s affirming love. Luke 23:33, 34

    2.   The Covenant of Availability: Anything I have—time, energy, insight, possessions—is at your
         disposal if you need it to the limit of my resources. As part of this availability, I pledge my time to
         you on a regular basis. Mark 3:14

    3.   The Covenant of Prayer: I covenant to pray for you in some regular fashion, believing that our
         caring Father wishes His children to pray for one another and ask Him for the blessings they need.
                                                                                          Luke 22:21,32
    4.   The Covenant of Openness: I promise to strive to become a more open person, disclosing my
         feelings, my struggles, my joys, and my hurts to you as well as I am able. This will serve to affirm
         your worth to me as a person. In other words, I need you! John 4:5, 6, 8; Ephesians 4:15,16

    5.   The Covenant of Honesty: I will try to mirror back to you what I am hearing you say and feel. If
         this means risking pain for either of us, I will trust our relationship enough to take that risk,
         realizing it is in “speaking the truth in love that we grow up in every way into Christ who is the
         Head” (see Ephesians 4:15). I will try to express this honesty in a sensitive and controlled manner
         according to what I perceive the circumstances to be. John 21:15-17

    6.   The Covenant of Sensitivity: Even as I desire to be known and understood by you, I covenant to be
         sensitive to you and to your needs to the best of my ability. I will try to hear you, see you, and feel
         you where you are and to draw you out if that’s what you want me to do. Luke 7:37-39, 48

    7.   The Covenant of Confidentiality: I will promise to keep whatever is shared within the confines of
         the group in order to provide the atmosphere of permission necessary for openness. John 13:21-29

    8.   The Covenant of Accountability: I consider that the gifts God has given me for the common good
         should be used for your benefit. I will seek Christ’s liberating power through His Holy Spirit and
         through my covenant partners so that I might give to you more of myself. I am accountable to you
         and to God to become what He has designed me to be in His loving creation. Matthew 26:39

                                   Hearing the Word for Encouragement
    The phrase “one another” or “each other” is used over fifty times in the New Testament. We
    are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each
    other, great each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each
    other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, sing to each other, submit to each other,
    and be devoted to each other.

     “Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s
    very own family, … and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” (Ephesians 2:19)

    “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down
    our lives for our brothers.” (I John 3:16)

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