Finishing the Small Group Year Strong, 2012

(This post is an updated version of last year’s similar post on finishing strong, with the same two headings, but new content; plus a great new ACTIVITY!)

The 2011-2012 ministry year is just about to conclude. Here’s how to have your best finish possible!

The two most important things to do in your last meetings together are “Celebrate Your Past” and “Plan Your Future.”

I.    Celebrate Your Past

“What is rewarded gets repeated.”  I have found this popular statement very true. So, what took place in your group members’ lives over the year that you consider a “win” and that you would like to see repeated?  Did anyone trust Christ; get baptized; have a child receive Jesus; live faithfully through a trial; share their faith; pray faithfully; grow spiritually; ask a lot of questions or contribute well in discussion; have perfect attendance (one of our leaders even gives an attendance reward – very fun).  Whatever the wins were for your fellow members, acknowledge them!

How about the wins for your group? Did you grow together; serve together; help each other through a difficult time, move or transition? Did your kids see you praying together? Did you give support to a missionary, or be the hands and feet of Jesus yourselves? Did anyone lead discussion for the first time, or do a great job planning your social calendar? Is anyone going to step out and lead their own group next year?

These lists go on and on. Brainstorm with your spouse, assistant or all group members together what your wins were, and then celebrate them together!  If you do, they are more likely to get repeated and built upon in the future.

II.    Plan Your Future

After celebrating your time together over the last year, it is vital to take the next step and plan your group’s future. Everyone needs an idea of your group’s plans for the summer and for next year.

So, get out the calendars and plan your activities this summer. Here’s a great idea list to start the brainstorming.  Be sure to include LCCC’s Family Camp – the Family Reunion, on August 17-19 (click for details!)

For one more good resource, see last year’s post “Maximizing Summer”.



A Recommended End-Of-Year Activity – “The THANK YOU CHALLENGE”

MATERIALS NEEDED: Bucket, and a small item (balls, stuffed animals, etc.) for each person 

INSTRUCTIONS (Print these):

1.  Sit in a circle with the empty bucket in the center. 

2.  Each person is given a ball. Someone will volunteer to go first. that person will SHARE something with the entire group that was meaningful to them from the year together.  This could be something they learned about themselves, something God has convicted them of or is calling them to change or do, something they appreciated about another group member, etc. Try to be genuine and personal.

3.  The person who shared will then toss a ball to someone else in the group – anyone. The person who tossed the ball must then look at that person and do one of the following: 

  • Apologize for something they’ve done to them in the past and ask for forgiveness.
  • Encourage or affirm them. For example, say, “A strength I see in you is _______.”
  • Challenge them (in a personal growth area, leadership issue, etc.)

4.  Now the person who received the ball only says, “Thank you,” and drops the ball in the bucket. Let me emphasize the ONLY thing the person can say is, “Thank you.” 

5.  Another person then volunteers to go next and follows the same pattern. Please note that the person who caught the ball does NOT need to go next, but everyone should have a turn. 

6.  When everyone has finished, either end with some time in prayer, or, if time, allow anyone to go a second time. By this time the group’s walls will be down and a good spirit of Christian fellowship will be felt. Make note of how nice this would be to experience regularly as we continue life together. 

I would love to hear about your group’s experience with the “Thank You Challenge.” Give me a call, email or post on the comments here for all to see.

Blessings on your homes,

Pastor Reg 


Finishing the Small Group Year Strong, 2011

I am praying deeply and sincerely for all our groups to finish on a high note; for our small group leaders to finish strong!  

Two healthy ways to do that are to “celebrate your past” and “plan your future.”    

I.    Celebrate Your Past

Spend time in one of your last meetings reflecting on the God-glorifying victories and growth from your experiences together this year.  Have a couple of your own, or someone else’s with a compelling story, planned to “prime the pump.”

You might read one of these paragraphs to get started:

A.        The Bible is filled with so many exhortations to ‘remember’ what God has done in the past, whether through the device of ‘memorial stones,’ annual festivals, tassels, phylacteries, or the discipline of hiding His Word in our hearts. God further demonstrated this in the two memorials that will last in His church forever: communion and baptism. 

B.       “We are so immersed in the pressured flow of life that we move from one crisis to the next activity to the following event, seldom if ever pausing to reflect on what those experiences are teaching us.  Unless we stop and reflect on the formative experiences and relationships of our life, we will miss the transformative purpose that God intended for them.” –Andrew Seidel

II.    Plan Your Future

Also spend time in one of your final meetings planning your group’s future. This will set everyone at ease, and give you the satisfaction of knowing everyone’s expectations are set.

A.        Discuss the future of this group: Remain intact? Transfer leadership? Split into two partnering groups so more people can join?

B.        Plan your summer schedule: rest; service/outreach projects; BBQ’s!! – get them on the calendar!

C.        Make a serious challenge to your group members to step up and become leaders of their own groups this fall. Challenge them, and promise to work with them to do it. One of LCCC’s greatest needs is more small group leaders, thus this can be one of the greatest services you could give to your church. Make sure you let me know who they are, too, and I will thank you!

Blessings on your homes,

Pastor Reg