Great Groups Need Great Facilitators
August 26th, 2015 | John Chandler
Midweek Groups are launching in just a few weeks, and I’m super excited to have you with us.
In the past we’ve been pretty open with our groups, when they meet, what they do, etc.
The feedback we’ve gotten is that people love their groups, but they would benefit from a little more structure and guidance.
We also want to try to make sure that everyone who wants to connect with a group can. So, we’ve been working to develop a format we hope will be simple, reproducible and enjoyable, as well as helping everyone grow on their journey in the way of Jesus.
Two Goals for Midweek Groups
We have two goals we hope to accomplish in Midweek Groups.
First, we want to help people connect with others at Austin Mustard Seed and grow in their relationships. Any meaningful spiritual growth that takes place always requires meaningful relationships. Midweek Groups help us initiate and develop such relationships.
Second, Midweek Groups help us keep prayer and scripture in our weekly rhythm. We all want to connect with God, and Midweek Groups help us do that by setting aside some time to do this together.
Three Elements of a Great Midweek Group Meeting
Midweek Groups, like Liturgy, are “The Work of the People.” Also, like Liturgy, they have a few constituent elements that make each week work great.
Meet and Eat in Homes
First, whenever possible, Midweek Groups should meet and eat in someone’s home. It doesn’t have to be in the same home each week. You can switch off between homes. Being in a home creates a welcoming atmosphere, and springboards the relationships we are trying to create. You don’t have to have a fancy meal. It could be a potluck, ordering pizza or some simple snacks. Eating together is a simple and core practice to developing the relationships and sense of community we’re looking for.
Listen to God
Second, we spend some time listening to God. Each week, we’ll provide a discussion guide that you can use delve further into the text we used on the previous Sunday. This guide will walk you through the practice of Lectio Divina as well as some helpful discussion questions.
Third, we purposefully check-in with each other. Each group should set aside some time at the beginning to hear about every individual’s previous week. We’ll provide a weekly facilitators guide with some questions you can use to get the conversation going. Spend the last few minutes of your time praying together. Try to get everyone involved, even if you need to split into smaller groups.
Five Tasks of a Facilitator
Now, in order to make this work, each group must have a facilitator. The facilitators are not necessarily pastors, professional speakers or great discussion leaders. Their role is to help make sure everyone knows when and where the group is meeting, and that the group has everything it needs to succeed that week.
Each group should have a primary facilitator and an associate facilitator. Facilitating the group is a 10 week responsibility, with five primary tasks.
Facilitators are not responsible for doing all five tasks, but making sure that all five tasks are assigned and completed.
- Participate: Facilitators should try to attend as many of the 10 weeks as possible. At the end of 10 weeks, they are encouraged to continue into the next quarter. If they cannot continue, they should inform Chris Morton at least two weeks before the end of the quarter.
- Maintain a regular calendar of where and when meetings will take place.
- Send weekly text message or email reminders
- Assign a discussion facilitator for each week.
- Coordinate a weekly meal or snack.
- Pass on any announcements for the group or for the church as a whole.
- Track Prayers: Ensure that prayer requests are recorded and followed up on.
- Choose one group member as an Associate Facilitator and teach them how to do what you are do.
- Develop relationships with group members. When possible, find opportunities to hang out together outside of group.
- Encourage: Take time to have fun with group members, and encourage them individually. Look for “unofficial” opportunities to spend time together.
Finally, I want to let you know that groups, and the role of facilitator is time-bound. We’re asking everyone to make a 10 week commitment, to being present and building these relationships. At the end of 10 weeks, everyone will have the chance to re-up for the next quarter.
Five Character Traits of a Midweek Group Facilitator
So, how do you know if you have what it takes to be a Midweek Group Facilitator? Here are five character traits a facilitator should have.
- Growing Faith in Jesus and his Way – A Midweek Group Facilitator should be committed to growing in their faith in Jesus and his Way. They have demonstrated this through their own commitment to rhythms and practices, and have a history of sacrificial love.
- A Heart for Hospitality – A Midweek Group Facilitator is accustomed to making space for others. They enjoy building relationships. They set aside time for others, and meet them where they are at. They know how to make others feel welcomed and at ease.
- Personal Bandwidth – A Midweek Group Facilitator has the time and energy to devote to communicating with members, attending group meetings and completing the tasks mentioned below. They are excited, because they know their effort will bless others. This will take approximately two hours a week, as well as the time spent in the weekly meeting
This Sunday, we’ll meet at Tim & Erin Dewberry’s house for lunch to discuss this more. Please RSVP on Facebook or email Chris Morton if you can make it.