Lobby Gathering 2021, one of the nation’s premier small group training & networking events, is now going to be a live virtual event from 9am-12pm PST Feb 23-24. See the session line-up or register HERE
I enjoy reading and listening to leadership material by John Maxwell. He certainly has a calling and gift to communicate leadership truths to anyone willing to listen and learn. One of the personal practices I heard John talk about a few years ago was how at the end of every year he would take a couple weeks to clear his calendar and take a retreat from everything. The purpose of this time off was to go through his planner, journal and calendar and reflect on the year and his experiences and endeavors. After the time of reflection John would plan for the coming year based on his findings. I started this practice myself a couple years ago in my life and it has been very helpful in my planning for the coming year and to focus on my priorities and goals. The biggest impact for me in doing this is seeking God’s will and plan so that I can submit to what He wants for me and my ministry (Romans 12:1,2). This time of reflection is not only a great practice for one’s personal life, but can also be very helpful in small group ministry. Here are three practices to focus your small group ministry for the new year. Warning, this will require your time.
Take the time needed to sit down and think about your small group ministry or your specific small group this past year. Go back over any planners, journals, small group to-do lists or your good ol’ memory that you have from the year and remember the good, the bad and the ugly. Reflect on the things that you liked and things that you didn’t like; the curriculum, events or campaigns that worked well and those that didn’t work so well. Put yourself back into those moments, soak it all in and write down the specifics in general category headings, such as: what worked, what didn’t work, what you can be grateful for, proudest moments, accomplishments, etc…Create your own categories, whatever will help you to organize the special moments and the details of how the year has gone for your small groups. It will be worth the effort to stop and spend time to reflect on your small group ministry or specific small group! This will also help to relay to your small group leaders or your small group members the memories from the year and all that God accomplished.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness…
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
After reflecting on the year, now it is time to rejoice in all that God has done. Yes, there were difficult times and struggles, but God is good and people grew in their walk with God because of small groups! Thank God for the good and the bad, as we know God wants to work it all for His good. Praise Him for the lives changed, people saved, Christians who grew in spiritual maturity, new people who joined groups and for your own personal spiritual and leadership growth. I would also suggest rejoicing in the great group of people that make up the Small Group Network and the resources provided and relationships made. One of the many things I can rejoice in personally for the past year is how quickly our small groups converted to online groups when the pandemic first hit! There’s much to thank and praise God for, so rejoice and learn from any mistakes (don’t beat yourself up)!
After reflecting and rejoicing, it is time to be renewed for the new year! It is time to resume the work God has called you to. Spend time with God and reaffirm your calling to small group ministry. Get excited about the new year and what God is going to do in and through you and your small group ministry! Seek God’s will and direction for your small group ministry or your specific small group for the coming year. Be refreshed and renewed as you realize that this is a new year that God has given us to fulfill His will in our lives and ministry. Take time to read through SGN articles, listen to SGN podcasts or scroll through some of the discussions on the SGN Facebook page. I’m sure you will be blessed and greatly encouraged. Pray for wisdom and revival in your heart for small group ministry! Be renewed and excited for the new year!
These are not just end of the year (or beginning of the year) exercises, but these are 3 practices that we can “practice” all throughout the year, at the very least mid-year. Be blessed and may your small group ministry and small group be focused and successful in God’s eyes this coming year as you follow Him!