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 Semester: Winter/Spring 2017

plan

Praise God, our groups are winding down a memorable Fall 2016 Semester. This post is to help leaders pray & plan for next semester.

How NOT to Start Your Next Semester

So, let’s start 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!

This goes back to why our groups exist. Are these groups Bible studies alone? No, definitely not. But, experience teaches that if a group launches their term immediately with the new Bible study 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:

  • 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!

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

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 church library, where you can access and check out materials.

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!
NOTE: A list of our available and recommended curriculums can be found in the 2016-17 Leader Toolkit, page 29.

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 8, 10:00-11:15AM.
    • Option 2 – For those who cannot attend the January 8 session, come to the makeup session on Saturday, January 21, during one of the 50-minute workshops of the Church Family Summit. Attend just this workshop, or better the entire half-day seminar.

*This year’s training will focus on “The Why?”, local and global small group missions, conflict resolution, key winter/spring dates, and more.

  • Signups: Signups will officially be open to new members starting on Dec. 31/Jan. 1.
  • Kickoff: Winter/Spring Semester officially kicks off the week of January 15. Be prepared to welcome new people, if possible.  

FINAL THOUGHTS:

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 fun and transformative experiences.

Our mission and vision remain the same:

Small Group Mission Banner 8 logo1

May God be glorified in our ministry,

Pastor Reg

Best Small Group Ice-Breaker Ever?

Several new people joined our small group for the summer, and we expected there to be many absences on various weeks. Out of that came an idea for an ice-breaker last Sunday that was probably my favorite of all time!  I’ll call it the Speaker Phone Ice-Breaker.

All we did was gather everyone around a speaker phone, kids included, and call each person missing that night.  When they or their voice mail answered, everyone yelled, “Hi _______!!!!”; then I said that we missed them and [this person] is going to pray for you; at which point I handed the phone to someone to pray for them.

We made five calls. A different person from our group prayed each time. One was a five year old son of one of our families! It was awesome.  One call was made to our loved family who had just, sadly, moved away; but it happened to be their anniversary!

It was a phenomenal ice-breaker all around – getting the kids involved, sharing our love, letting people know we missed them, and praying for each other.

BUT, the greatest moment of it all came the next day, when our co-leaders and soon-to-depart missionaries to Niger, Jon and Christine Banke, sent this on our group’s Facebook page…

Thank you so much for the call and the prayer!! That was really neat…we feel loved. While I was listening to you pray, Sarah, we got an email from someone with a commitment of $100.00 a month! : )

That was one of the coolest things ever! And later that day, they got the final commitment that brings them to 100% – FULL SUPPORT for their return to Niger.

Thank you, God, I love it when you work that way, for us to enjoy!