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

What Does It Take To Lead a Small Group (in 2013-2014)?

I posted this “small group leader job description” last year, but have updated for 2013!

Are you considering using your God-given gifts to lead in the LCCC Family? If so, praise God!  Now that raises the questions…What does it take to be a Lake City Small Groups Leader? What does small group leadership include?

Here is the official position description for this significant role:

Lake City Small Group Leader Description

Small Group Leader’s Qualifications:

  1. Be a member of the church, or be in membership process.
  2. Attend the leader trainings, in fall and January.
    • Small Group Leader Fall Series Material Meeting is Sunday, Sept. 1, 10:50AM (during 2nd service) in the Gym. It is primarily for small group leaders, but open to everyone.
    • Ministry Summit is Saturday, Sept. 15, 9am-1pm. It is for ALL leaders of LCCC, including small group leaders.
  3. Be approved and blessed by small groups pastor and an elder.

Small Group Leader’s Job Description:

(Trying to do less than this will fail almost every time.  Co-leaders or “Inner Circles” will share this load.)

Time Commitment:  Prayer and preparation before the group; the group meeting time; relationship-building and discipleship time outside the group.

Length of Commitment: Semester and/or entire 9 month ministry year. 

Primary Roles:

  1. Be a model of someone who desires to become like Jesus.
  2. Delegate leading and caring responsibilities to group members so they can use their gifts for the benefit of the group.
  3. Regularly contact group members between meetings (through phone calls, emails, cards, coffee, invite for dinner, notes on Facebook, etc.)  Follow up with absent members to let them know they were missed.
  4. Disciple and raise up new generations of leaders, as you are able.
  5. Complete the simple evaluation reports requested by small groups pastor from time to time.

Tools Provided for Leaders

1.  As the small groups pastor, I sit down personally with everyone who expresses interest in leading or co-leading our small groups. I always come prepared with our Lake City Small Groups Toolkit (a collection of our best training materials over the past sevenyears), and an enthusiasm to answer the frequently asked questions and the intriguing questions that are new to me.

2.  Because of the importance of this role, all leaders are designated a pastor (that’s me), an elder who prays for and is available to them, and a coach (if desired), for assistance, encouragement and accountability of their own growth as a follower of Jesus.

3.  This blog is also an ever-increasingly more comprehensive quick-reference for many areas of small group leadership.

4.  And, stay in touch with everyone throughout the year by “liking” the Lake City Small Groups page on Facebook!

How to Become a Leader

As you can see, these are attainable qualifications and expectations. We are happy with our bar for leadership – not too high and not too low.
You can sign up to become one of our great team of leaders this year, by:
  1. Contacting me at reg.overstreet@lc3.com or 253-582-8040
  2. Marking your interest on a Communication Card in the weekend services
  3. Attending the Sept. 1 “Why Am I Here?” Materials Meeting
  4. Attending the Sept. 14 Lake City Ministry Summit
Blessings on our stewardship of leading God’s people,
Pastor Reg

Foolproof Plan for a Successful Kickoff

You want to kick off your small group year the best you can. Hmmmm, a “foolproof plan” sounds attractive.

This three stage plan will not disappoint you! Following it with prayer and a pure heart for your group will make your members valued, engaged, aware of what to expect and committed to the group for the entire semester.

Bold claims?  Give it a try! (And feel free to add your observations and other ideas to the discussion in the comments section.)

“ABCs” OF A GREAT SEMESTER START:

Before Your First Meeting

  1. Make a map to your house and send this out a week ahead of time.
  2. Call your group members.  Personal contact is critical. When you call them, your enthusiasm is very important.
  3. Ask each person to bring something (soda, chips, etc.). This cements their attendance, making them much more likely to show 🙂

At Your First Meeting

  1. Start your group off with an informal social meeting. Food is always helpful. Discuss the ownership and agreement of purpose of your group using the tools on pages 6 & 7.
  2. Have nametags and markers ready at the door. Arrange for an uninterrupted session (i.e., childcare needs, food prepared in advance, etc.).
  3. Get to know one another with an introductory game/ice breaker.  Rule of thumb: Get everyone talking in the first five minutes of the meeting!
  4. Establish a good pattern for prayer by praying at the beginning and end of the meeting, and asking how to pray for each other that week.
  5. Set a date and place for the next meeting before you dismiss.

After Meeting Follow-up

  1. Call or touch base with everyone who attended the meeting to thank them for coming. Shake their hands when you see them at church. Set a pattern early for contact with you between meetings.
  2. Call all of your new group members a couple days before your next meeting. Don’t assume that they’ll remember. They will need your encouragement to come to meeting #2!
How did it work?