Planning Your Next Semester: Winter/Spring 2018

plan

Praise God, our groups are winding down a memorable Fall 2017 Semester. This post, which is revised and updated each year, aids leaders in planning for our next semester.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

Let’s begin with how NOT to start your next semester.

A typical question leaders are asking is: “What curriculum should I kickoff the Winter/Spring semester with?” My preferred answer would be… NONE!

NONE, Why is that!? This goes back to why our groups exist. Are they Bible studies alone? No, definitely not. But, experience teaches that if a group launches a new term immediately with the new Bible study or curriculum on the first week, then that group will become forever locked into the “study” mold and mentality, as if that is all you exist to do, no matter what you try to do later.

The Solution: Start your semester with some of the other vital small group elements which often get crowded out. Ideas include:

  • Start with a meal or fun night. You are a spiritual family, after all. Set the tone to enjoy each other!

communion_t

  • Start with a worship, prayer, and/or communion night, seeking God’s guidance and setting a worshipful pattern for your year.
  • Start with a service/outreach project, or series of them, declaring: “We are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus!”
  • Start with sharing a few personal salvation testimonies, to celebrate God’s grace in our lives and get to know each other well.group-worship
  • Start with having the kids involved in worship, so they see Jesus Christ as the center for your group’s existence.
  • Then, start your curriculum, having become close friends and spiritual siblings; soul mates and teammates. We have 16-20 weeks in the Winter/Spring Semester. No need to rush into a curriculum, there is plenty of time to do it all!

Calendar and Small Group Agreement Pages

Pull out that Winter/Spring Calendar, found in the first couple pages of the Leader and Member Toolkits, with your group to plan out the entire semester together – host locations, fun days, weeks off, trips together, meal plans… whatever you can plan.

And, don’t neglect to review the Small Group Agreement page, to get everyone’s expectations aligned. Among the most important axioms I have learned in church leadership over the years is that “Expectations are everything.” They truly are. Clear and aligned expectations will directly impact your members’ attendance and engagement all year long.

NOW, Choose the Right Curriculum

currSince our foundation is God’s Word, a good curriculum or Bible study plan is a vital tool. Come browse our many curriculums in the training sessions or in my office anytime, where you can access our materials to preview or check out.

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with “The Lake City Offer”, which is:

If you are interested in using a curriculum we do not currently have, I will buy the leader book and DVD (if there is one) for you if you will return it when finished, to add to our library. Your group members will just buy their own participant guides, if there is one. This offer helps future groups and eliminates any hesitation based on the cost of a study!
NOTE: A list of our available and recommended curriculums can be found in the back of the Leader Toolkit.

Important Dates

Here are a few important dates for your calendars:

    • * **Leader Training: As always, there is one required January training session for all leaders, offered twice, for your scheduling convenience:
      • Option 1 – Sunday, January , 11:30am – 1:15pm, with lunch.
      • Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the January 7 session, come to the makeup session on Sunday, January 14, 11:30am – 12:40pm, without lunch (snacks only).

*This year’s training will focus on personal spiritual growth and leader development, strategically according to where you in this season of your life. Also included are fellowship with other leaders, coaches, and then key elements of the church’s vision and winter/spring  dates.

**This year’s training involves videos to watch beforehand. A link to five videos will be sent to all leaders who then choose two of the five to watch, based on where you are currently in your personal leadership life-season.

  • Signups: Signups will officially be open to new members starting on Dec. 30/31, with the list of open groups passed down the aisles in church the following two weeks.
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester officially kicks off the week of January 14. Leaders of open groups, be prepared to proactively welcome new people right away!  

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Our mission and vision remain the same:

Small Group Mission Banner 8 logo1

All our small group training sessions are always open to everyone. Families and discipleship groups are welcome to attend together.

The Winter/Spring Semester runs through the end of May, so it’s a bit longer than the Fall Semester, leaving you room to do more things and have more fun and transformative experiences.

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

Planning your Next Small Group Semester: Have You Thought of Everything?

Plan, 2015-1

Our groups are winding down the Fall, 2014 Semester. Finish well, groups! 

This post is to help our small group leaders as you pray and plan for next semester; to be prepared and as proactive as you can be to lead your group well. 

Winter/Spring, 2015 Calendar

Calendar - generic

Click for a printable LCCC Winter/Spring Calendar Template that gives general church information.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

There is a common way to start a new small group semester. And then there is a better way.

The Problem: If a group starts their semester right off with the new Bible study curriculum, they will be locked into the “study” mold and mentality, as if that is all you exist to do, no matter what you try to do later.

The Solution: As you (and your Inner Circle) create your calendar, start your semester with some of the other items which often get crowded out:

  • Start with a meal or fun night. You are a spiritual family, after all. Set the tone to actually enjoy each other!
  • Start with a worship/prayer night, seeking God’s guidance and setting a worshipful pattern for your year.
  • Start with a service/outreach project, or series of them, declaring: “We are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus!”
  • Start with sharing your personal salvation testimonies, to celebrate God’s grace in our lives and get to know each other well.
  • Start with having the kids involved in worship, so they see Jesus Christ as the center for your group’s existence.
  • Then, start your curriculum, having become close friends and spiritual siblings; soul mates and teammates. We have 16-20 weeks in the Winter/Spring Semester. No need to rush into a curriculum. There is plenty of time to do it all!

acts

NOW, Choose the Right Curriculum

See our entire small group curriculum library list, here.

Since our foundation is God’s Word, a good curriculum makes an effective tool. Come browse and check out some of our many curriculums. NOTE: Our ever-expanding small group curriculum library will not be on a table in my office for browsing this year (as pictured). This year, we are moving to the church library, where you can access and check out materials more easily (and I don’t have to climb over the table to get to my desk all winter!)

curr, 2013

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with…

“The Lake City Offer”

If you are interested in using a curriculum we do not currently have, I will buy the leader book and DVD (if there is one) for you, if you will return it when finished, to add to our library. Your group members will just buy their own participant guides, if there is one. This offer helps future groups and eliminates any hesitation based on the cost of a study!

Important Training and Kickoff Dates

Here are a few important dates for your calendars:

  • Training: As always, there is one required January training session, offered twice, for your scheduling convenience: 
    1. Option 1 – Offered as a workshop at the Church Family Summit, Saturday, January 10, 9:00AM-1:00PM.
    2. Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the Church Family Summit, come to the make up session on Sunday, January 18, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10pm).
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester kicks off the week of January 18, after a few weeks of signups. Be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  

NOTES: All Summit workshops and small group training sessions are always open to everyone. Families and discipleship groups are welcome to attend together. 

The Winter/Spring Semester runs through early June, so it’s a bit longer than the Fall Semester, leaving you room to do more things and have more transformative experiences.

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

Steps for Planning your Winter/Spring Semester, 2014

plan

Our groups are winding down the Fall, 2013 Semester. Finish well, beloved groups. This post is to help as you pray and plan for next semester.

Here are some helpful steps and resources for your effective planning.

TOOLKIT and Small Group Vital Signs Book

Vital Signs

These are our primary leadership resources. They emphasize (and reward) proactive leadership. One of the best preparations you can make before Winter/Spring kickoff is to flip through these great resources again to build up your vision and gather ideas, so you can better lead those entrusted to your care. 

Leaders, co-leaders and Inner Circles should have these two resources. If you do not, tell me and I will get you one ASAP.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

As we often clarify, small groups are more than Bible studies. Small groups are our glorious opportunity to live out ALL the New Testament’s design for the church, with each other, for Jesus’ purposes. (read Acts 2:42-47 again, for example).

The problem: Experience shows that if you start your group’s experience with a Bible study, you will be locked into the “Bible study” mold and mentality, no matter what you try to do later.

The solution: Wisdom suggests you start your semester with the other things that get crowded out:

  • Start with a worship/prayer night, seeking God’s guidance and setting a worshipful pattern for your year.
  • Start with a service/outreach project, or series of them, saying “We are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus!”
  • Start with sharing a few personal salvation testimonies, to celebrate God’s grace in our lives.
  • Start with having the kids involved in worship, seeing Jesus Christ proclaimed as the purpose for your existence.
  • Then, start your study. We have 16-20 weeks in the Winter/Spring Semester – plenty of time to do it all!

acts

NOW, Time to Choose a Study

Our foundation is always God’s Word, and a curriculum used well can be an effective tool.

As always, I have laid out our ever-expanding small group curriculum library on a table in my office, for you to come by and browse, or borrow a couple to check out.

curr, 2013

See our entire curriculum library list, here.

And, don’t forget that you can help us keep building up our curriculum library, with “the Lake City Offer”…

“The Lake City Offer”

If you are interested in using a curriculum we do not have, I will buy the leader book and DVD (if there is one) for you, if you will return it when finished, to add to our library. Your group members will just buy their own participant guides, if there is one. 

This offer helps future groups and eliminates any hesitation based on the cost of a study.

Important Leader Training and Kickoff Dates

Here are a few important dates to put on your calendar right now:

As always, there is one required January training session which will be offered twice, for your scheduling convenience: 

  1. First offering – Sunday, January 12, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10pm).
  2. Second offering – at the Church Family Summit, on Saturday, January 25, 9:00AM-1:00PM. Young Life Field Vice President, Bill Paige, will be our plenary speaker.

The full Church-Family Summit Schedule will be out soon. All training sessions are always open for walk-ins.

UPDATE

Phil Downer

Two exciting events have just been added. Author, speaker, and mentor of our small group leader Kevin Bouren, Phil Downer, is speaking to several thousand at JBLM, from January 13-17. We have just added two dates with him at LCCC:

1.  Monday, Jan. 13, 6:00-8:00pm – Speaking to small group leaders, ministry leaders, and all church leaders. TopicSpiritually Reproducing Your Life – Spiritual Multiplication. 

2.  Wednesday, Jan. 15, open dinner in Friendship Room, 5:30-6:15pm; Session for outreach and encouragement, from 6:30-8:00pm. Topic: Family – From Hell To Eternity: Strengthening Marriages through Men’s Mentorship/Discipleship

The Winter/Spring Semester kicks off the week of January 19, after a few weeks of signups. So, leaders, be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  It runs through early June, so it’s a bit longer than the Fall Semester, leaving you room to do more things.

Continue to cast the vision that small groups are not merely Bible studies, but rather the “church scattered in communities, passionately living out Christlike love for God, one another and the world.”  The Winter/Spring Semester allows for a breadth of formative experiences for your group. 

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

Questions to Ask AFTER Your Next Small Group Meeting

Outstanding Evaluation

Have you ever successfully evaluated something? A job you completed? A team’s performance? How about your small group meetings?

Because regular evaluation leads to improving things that are important to us, here is a simple list of questions to ask after your next small group meeting.

Ask yourself, your spouse, your co-leader, your “Inner Circle” leadership team, or a select member to answer the following:

1. How well did you make known that Jesus is the Center, Leader and Lord of your group?

2. How did you sense the Holy Spirit moving in the group?

3. What does this group value?

4. What stage is this group in?

5. What do we need in order to move to the next stage?

6. How actively is everyone contributing their spiritual gifts and abilities to build up the group?

7. Was the facilitator asking or telling?

8. What challenges did people leave with to work on this week? How will I know if they achieved them?

9. What ministry, outreach, and worship events are on our group calendar this semester?

10. Are there any unresolved conflicts? Should there be (some healthy confrontation)?

11. What other evaluation questions should I be asking about our group?

12. And finally, what is there to celebrate about our group? (If any should be celebrated church-wide on the LC3Celebrations blog, send them to reg.overstreet@lc3.com!)

evaluation1

Blessings on our groups,

Pastor Reg

Top 10 Posts of 2011

Here are the ten most viewed posts of the past year. I am grateful to God for any usefulness these resources have provided our leaders and groups.  Enjoy!

10. How Can I Get My Members to Talk?

9. Leading Discussion – Basics and Advanced

8. Three Inspiring Testimonies of Lake City Small Group Growth

7. Golf, Fantasy Football, Guns: Men of God

6. Early Testimonies from Forgotten God Series, Fall 2011

5. Discipling Men in Small Groups, Part 2 – Getting and Keeping Them

4. Curriculum List for 2012

3. Small Group Leaders Bowling Party Recap (and What’s Upcoming this Fall!)

2. 2010-2011 Year In Review

And….Number 1 is a bit anti-climactic to view now because its purpose was to prepare us for a season which is already past. However, the Forgotten God series was a tremendous season, and you can hear and share the greatest praises from it THIS WEEKEND in church, in our Testimony & Praise Weekend!

1. Forgotten God, this Fall at LCCC!

I plan to give this growing blog a nice organizational and design overhaul next year, whenever I make time OR find a volunteer who is proficient in this area (hint hint).

Blessings on your homes, and Happy New Year!

Pastor Reg

How To Analyze Your Small Group’s Health

This post is derived from Frank Chiapperino’s post here.

Use these lists of questions to stay on top of your small group’s health in these four most important relationship areas:

  1. [God] Your personal relationship with God and your group’s relationship with God.
  2. [Each other] The depth of your relationships with your group members and their relationships with each other.
  3. [Leadership] The number of future leaders your group is producing and you are personally investing in.
  4. [Evangelism] The relationships your group has with unchurched people and the passion they tap into to connect those people to God.

Evaluation Questions:

God:

  • How often do you pray for your group each week?
  • Do you and your group members discuss personal time spent with God?
  • How much time do you spend in prayer and Bible study each day?
  • Does your group spend time talking about prayers that God has answered?

Each other:

  • How many times does your group meet in an average month?
  • How many parties, socials, or fun group activities has your group had in the past 3 months?
  • How many times have you invited someone from your group over for a meal in the past two months?
  • Do you ever participate in church activities as a group by going together?
  • How often do you communicate with group members by phone, e-mail, cards, or letters to encourage them?

Leadership:

  • Does your group have an assistant-leader or an apprentice?
  • How many of your group members expect to lead a group sometime in the future?
  • How many people in your group participate by leading different components of the meeting? (For example: prayer time, icebreaker, Bible reading, etc.)
  • How often does your group pray about developing new group leaders?
  • Who in your group would you like to see become a leader?

Evangelism:

  • How often does your group pray for people far from God?
  • How many parties or gatherings have you had, not spiritual in nature, that your group members could invite their non-Christian friends to?
  • When a visitor attends your group for the first time, how often do you follow up with a phone call, card, or an invite to breakfast or lunch?
  • Does your group have a goal to grow or start another group?

Answers to the Questions Most Often Asked by First Year Small Group Leaders

Whether you’re  a new leader, a veteran with some very common questions, or maybe open to leading a small group in the near future, here are some helpful resources given by small group guru Rick Howerton, with a couple of my own additions.

Just click on the title to go to a blog post on that particular topic.

What do I do about the overly talkative group member?

Suggestions for Helping the Overly Talkative Group Member

What should I do when most of the small group doesn’t show up for the group meeting?

When Only a Few People Show Up for the Group Meeting
Leftover, When a Small Group Gets Smaller

How do I get group members to talk more during the meeting?

The Importance of Conversations Between Meetings

How do I get group members to make a meaningful commitment to the small group?

Small Group Covenants, Why Covenant, How to Covenant

How can I bring our Bible study time to life?

Journeying, Five Necessities for Guiding Your Group Beyond Bible Study

How do we handle confrontation in the group?

Confronting in Small Groups, Wisdom from Joel Comiskey

Lake City Small Group’s resource articleConflict Resolution – a Biblical Model for LCCC

How do I make sure that our conversational Bible study isn’t a night of shared ignorance?

Bible Study, A Night of Shared Ignorance

What should we do about childcare!?

Lake City Small Group’s Childcare Statement

Our season of training and kick-off is just about here!  Blessings and prayers on your preparations. I look forward to our ministry, for His glory throughout the earth,

Pastor Reg

Halloween, 2010

Ah yes, it’s almost Halloween – the pagan, turned Roman Catholic, turned commercial American holiday.  Here’s a little resource that may be useful in small groups this year for your conversations about Halloween.

By clicking here you will find a great article on Halloween from John MacArthur’s ministry Grace to You.  Excerpts include:

  • Halloween will bring in approximately 3.3 billion dollars this year.  [an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards.]
  • The question is, “How should Christians respond to Halloween?”  Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat?…
  • The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death.
  • Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called “Harvest Festivals” or “Reformation Festivals”
  • How should Christians respond to Halloween?

Which reminds me…See you at Lake City’s Harvest Carnival on October 31!  Small Groups meeting that Sunday are asked to postpone their regular meetings and attend the Harvest Carnival as a community outreach event!

I pray you are fearless in Christ from all that tries to haunt you in this life.

Pastor Reg

Hello Lake City!

Welcome to the blog component of the Lake City Small Groups Community.  Leaders (and anyone else interested in receiving the latest updates and small group tools), please subscribe to the RSS Feed for this blog to automatically receive my weekly update emails.  To subscribe, simply click “subscribe” and enter your email address.