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!


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


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