Starting Small Groups for Your Men

Starting Small Groups for Your Men
Steve Sonderman

For the last twenty years I have been involved in countless groups in church and parachurch settings-task groups, study groups, work groups, prayer groups, evangelistic groups. One group, however, stands out. I mentioned earlier in the book that six years ago I asked two friends if they would like to meet regularly to share what was going on in our lives and to pray for one another. Never did I imagine how we would grow together. As we began to meet for an hour a week or every other week some things started to happen:

Our group became a place where I could be encouraged. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that believers aren’t to neglect meeting together-and that when we do meet one key purpose for being together is encouragement. That’s a big piece of what I gained. When one of us took a step of faith or said no to sin, the other two cheered. We covenanted to never let the others walk through the valley of death by themselves. Shortly after we started getting together I found myself in the hospital with a blown-out knee. Hardly life-threatening. But within an hour both men were there.

Our group provided a place for accountability. Men are
icebergs. People only see a tenth or so of our lives-almost always the beautiful part. What’s below the surface, however, is where our real lives happen-lives often hidden from the scrutiny of other Christians. The jagged subsurface edges of my secret life often ripped open relationships and damaged my spiritual life. When my friends probed my hidden side they offered an accountability that exposed those jagged areas of my life and allowed me to be healed.

The group fanned the flames of faith. Proverbs 27:17 says that “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” Our small group was a place to talk about ways to improve my prayer life and my devotion to Christ. It helped me discover whether I was serving in the right area and if my gifts were being used.

Through the last six years I have changed ministry focus and faced personal challenges. It has been the small group that has helped hold the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to share his life with them.

This principle is exemplified not only in the life of Paul but
in the life of Jesus. This life-sharing is rare today. Our society
is information hungry. We keep a distance from one another
through e-mail and answering machines. Small groups break
through these superficial, shallow relationships. Men can
share what is really going on in their lives.

Who can a man talk to about the troubles he is having with
his teenage daughter?

Who can he talk to about the emotional connectedness he
feels for a gal at the office?

Who can he talk to about the wounds of his past?
Where can he go to share the joys of leading a co-worker to

Where can he share his deepest fears as a man?

The answer to all these is the small group. It is the biblical
means by which men can get together with other men and
share life with one another.

Small groups are a place to function as real Christians. A
man recently walked up to me and said, “Where do I start?” I responded by saying, “Start what?”

“Start doing everything the Bible tells me I am supposed
to be doing,” he said. “I go to a church with three thousand
people in the service. I go to the Men’s Monthly Breakfast and
there are over two hundred men there-but where can I prac
tically love, forgive, accept, and encourage another man?”

Great question. There’s a great answer as well: a small group. Within the New Testament there are close to one hundred and twenty “One Another Injunctions,” such as: Accept one another (Romans 15:7) Love one another (John 13:34-35)

Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) Confess your sins to each other (James 5:16) Pray for each other (James 5:16)
me together. I will never not be in a small group, and any ministry I oversee will have a small group ministry at its core.

In this chapter I want to discuss how your leadership team can start small groups for the men of your church. To be honest, this may be the most important thing you as a leadership team can provide for your men. It’s the stuff that makes disciples. There are a number of great books on how to start and run small groups, and I will mention some of them at the end of this chapter. What I will cover in this chapter won’t give you every detail those books can provide regarding running a full-blown small group ministry. But let me outline some points that will get you started.

Why Men’s Small Groups?

While there are many reasons why small groups will benefit your ministry to men, let me mention just a few. Small groups allow men to share life. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 Paul tells the Thessalonians he
came not only to share.

Instruct one another (Romans 15:14)

Each of these commands can be lived out in a small group, In a group of four to twelve men you can love another, pray for another, carry another’s burden, accept others the way they are, and forgive others when wronged. Given our frantic lives, those things are hard to do outside a small group!

Small groups grow men in Christ. In Colossians 1:28 Paul says his goal of teaching is to present every man “perfect in Christ.” Not a bad goal for a men’s ministry. Within the confines of a small group men can learn what Christianity is all about. By working through a curriculum like Operation Timothy, they will be grounded. Or by studying Romans they will learn the great doctrines of our faith. Not only do they discuss what God desires, men get a chance to apply what they learnand to be held accountable for areas they want to change. The bottom line is that in small groups men become more and more like Christ in all they say and do. If the group ever loses this component they are finished. Bill Hybels, senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, says, “No Christian will ever actualize his or her spiritual potential unless they are in a small group. The highest goal of any small group is to grow in Christ.”‘

Small groups offer accountability. One of the failings of much of contemporary Christianity is its emphasis on individualism. Thousands upon thousands of people believe they can make a decision to become a Christian bathed in the glow of their television or amid the crush of a large gathering of people and then never face accountability for their actions the rest of their lives. Christianity for them is a solo sport. God didn’t design Christianity that way. In the same way that it would be suicidal for a quarterback to play offense by himself against eleven defensive players, so it is spiritual suicide to try to live the Christian life without others. Unfortunately, many try especially men.

In a famous survey of leaders a few years ago, Howard Hendricks, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, interviewed either over the phone or face-to-face some 242 Christian leaders recently forced to leave the ministry because of moral failure. One of the questions he asked was if they were in an accountability group. To everyone’s surprise, not a single one was. These were good men. Godly men. Leaders who desired nothing but God’s best for them. Yet they fell.’

A small group provides the context where tough questions can be asked week in and week out. Chuck Swindoll has seven questions that give you a taste of what these questions might be like:’

1. Have I been with a woman in the past week in a way
that could be viewed as compromising?

2. Have all my financial dealings been filled with integrity?

3. Have I viewed or read sexually explicit material?

4. Have I achieved the goals I set for Bible study and

5. Have I spent quantity time with-and given priority
to-my family?

6. Have I fulfilled the mandates of my calling?

7. Have I just lied to you?

These probing questions get right to the point. They rip to the heart of men’s struggles. At the end of the chapter I will include a more lengthy list that your groups can use for accountability.

Small groups maintain the momentum of a large event. Men’s ministries face few challenges bigger than shepherding men who attend a Promise Keepers Conference or Wake-Up Call and come home all excited about their life in Christ. Just like high school kids returning home from a retreat, they will lose their fire unless they are put in a position to keep the flames going. If we truly want to bring the fire home to our churches and keep that fire burning, then small groups are the means. One weekend a year doesn’t make a man of God. Promise Keepers is rightly putting enormous amounts of energy and time into helping men see why they need small groups. We can be there to provide small groups for the men the other fifty-one weeks of the year.

So what are our options? is what you are probably asking right about now. In this section let’s look at seven types of small groups you could have within your ministry. In no way am I saying you need all of these or that these are your only options. Rather, I want to give you the big picture so you can select and start what is best for your ministry.

Task Groups

Task groups come together to work on a project. They are action-oriented, aiming at accomplishing a specific task-a great way to get men involved.

Three years ago, with one of our church’s missionaries, I took three businessmen to Succeava, Romania. We wanted to help a small church get firmly rooted in that city. Our men met with a small group of Christians from the church to talk about economic development-how we could help them start a business to provide enough money to pay the pastor’s salary and to run the church. Everyone decided to start a used clothing store.

To start a used clothing store, of course, you need clothes. So these guys came back and have been collecting good quality clothes from people in the church and community. To this date they have sent to Romania six forty-foot cargo containers of clothes. Some have traveled back to do business workshops. In order to keep the project going, we meet once a month in my office as a small group. We don’t spend time in study, accountability or extended times of sharing, but we have become a tight bunch and seen God do a marvelous work in our midst. Although our group has a practical bent, these men are practicing the “one anothers.” They definitely pass the “I-can-callthem-anytime-of-day-or-night” test. When we meet we talk about the project and what needs to happen to keep it moving forward. Our group has a specific purpose and these men love being a part of it.

Entry-Level Group

Most men cringe when they hear the word “small group. “They would sooner go shopping for a day than be in a small group. It’s necessary, therefore, to give men small groups in small doses. I have found that almost any man who gets into a small group grows to love it and will rarely want to leave it. We use special events to start these groups. I have found it helpful to have groups short in length and high on application. After we had Steve Farrar do a weekend with our guys, for example, we started up eight new small groups. During the event men gave testimony about the importance of small groups and then we gave men a chance to sign up at the end of the event. The groups were formed to go through Farrar’s book Point Man and were intended to last six weeks, meeting for an hour a week. The time was split between sharing with one another, praying for one another and discussing the material. The guys loved it. A number of those groups are still going today. Give ’em a taste and you’ve got ’em.

Investigative Bible Studies

Jesus made profound claims about himself that few nonChristians grasp. Investigative Bible studies pull together a number of men seeking to understand these claims. One man I know has spent considerable time building bridges with the men in his office. After a number of spiritual discussions with them, he asked them if they would be interested in joining him for a three-week study of Jesus Christ. The first week they looked at “Who Jesus Is,” the second week at “What Jesus Did” and the final week at “What Is Man’s Response?” These types of groups afford seekers the chance to ask questions they may not normally ask. It allows them to look at the core issues of Christianity and knocks down false caricatures of Christianity. It is exciting to hear how men have turned to Jesus as a result of this type of small group.

Accountability Groups

The purpose of accountability groups is straightforwardto come together for a short period of time to ask the tough questions, share and pray for one another. When I meet with my guys it’s usually for just one hour. We each take fifteen minutes to share what is going on in our lives, tell the men what we want to be accountable for in the coming week or weeks and then spend the final fifteen minutes praying for one another. We don’t study anything, work on anything or try to
save anyone. This group is purely to sharpen our character and to encourage our souls. Of all the groups mentioned these are probably the easiest to get going. They can also pay some of the greatest dividends because men seldom find accountability elsewhere in the church.

Study Groups

George meets with eight men every Wednesday morning at a local restaurant. Their table is reserved and the waitress knows them by name because they’ve been eating in the same booth for the last six years. These guys are committed to one another and to the Word. They spend the first thirty minutes sharing with one another and eating breakfast. Then they break open the real Bread and away they go. They have worked through Genesis, Revelation, Romans and a host of other books and topics. Surely they have built relationships, but their stated purpose for meeting is to “study the Word.” Unfortunately, many men in our society spend a great deal of time under the Word of God getting teaching, but not in the Word of God digging and living. It’s easy to discuss what others say about the Bible and not study it for yourself. Bible study groups allow men to systematically work through various books of the Bible and to allow God to change their hearts
and lives.

Support Groups
Support groups provide support and encouragement to men who are all dealing with the same life issue. For many men, these groups are the key to coping with life and getting on their feet again. The groups reach and minister to specific pockets of men with common needs. Some churches have sponsored groups for those with sexual addictions, those living with an unbelieving wife, groups based on Alcoholics Anonymous, others dealing with drug addictions and single parenthood. One somewhat unusual group I know well of is our CPR group-“Career Path Restoration.” Each Monday evening Doug leads a group of men who are presently unemployed or know they will soon lose their job. While there are many groups in our area that provide practical assistance through networking, interview training and resume help, few walk with someone through the pain of job loss. Doug and his team provide just that. They offer the loving care men need. They help group members walk through the process and enable them to see Jesus walking with them.

Top Gun Groups

Top Gun is our nine-month “men equipping men” program designed to model, teach and encourage practical application of the biblical principles that build a foundation for living life in Christ. A Top Gun group is twelve men who meet for two hours a week. They spend the first hour in small groups sharing, praying and being accountable to one another, and the second hour in the large group discussing the work they did over the course of the week. The modules include “Intimacy With Christ,” “How to Study the Bible,” “The Man and His Family,” “Servant Leadership,” “Evangelism,” and “Biblical Principles for Work.” Each man spends an average of two hours a week in Bible study, Bible memory and outside reading. The manual has been written by the men of our ministry and is now being used by churches all over the country. Of all the things going on in our ministry, this is by far the most exciting. It’s having the biggest impact in the lives of our men. There is information on Top Gun groups in Appendix C.

Friendship Groups

Every Friday morning Paul hosts a group of about ten men in his home. Generally half are from the suburbs and half are from the city. They come from all different denominations, races and backgrounds. Some are in full-time ministry, others are not. They spend time sharing with one another, fellow’ shiping and praying for one another, meeting to break down the walls that exist in our city. There is no agenda, no planning
or study-just men getting to know men and developing friendships. What an incredible thing to see these groups popping up all over the landscape.

Is this an exhaustive list? No. But it does cover a number of the choices for you. Small groups don’t have to all be one flavor. As a leadership team you can decide which you want to use or what combination to use. If small groups are anything they are flexible-you can tailor them to your church and your men.

Recruiting and Training Small Group Leaders

When you start a small group you entrust the lives of men to a leader. That being true, you want to ensure your leaders are qualified and trained to lead. You don’t recruit these men by “casting wide the net” but by “tapping men on the shoulder.” Don’t use the bulletin or ask for volunteers at large gatherings of men. Your leadership team or pastor or other church leaders will be the best source of names of potential leaders.

Be careful in selecting men to lead your groups. It’s far more dangerous to put men in charge who aren’t qualified than to not have small groups. Some qualities to look for in a leader:

1. Godly character. He takes knowing and loving God very
seriously (1 Timothy 3:1-13).

2. An authentic relationship with Jesus. His relationship
is characterized by obedience and submission to Christ
(1 John 2:3-11).

3. A consistent walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. He
daily yields to His work in his life (Ephesians 5:18-21).

4. Spiritual giftedness. He shows gifts in the area of lead
ing a discussion and engaging others (1 Corinthians12:7.).

5. A teachable spirit. He is open to learn from others and God.

8. A commitment to building and multiplying disciples to reach the world. He has a vision for the harvest and for building disciples to go into the harvest (Matthew 28:19-20).

7. Has been in a group already. Having been a participant gives him the practical experience he needs to lead others.
After praying over your list of potential leaders and sensing these men are ready to lead, you can then approach them with the job description. Spell out clearly what you expect, the job they would do and how long they will need to be involved. Some expectations to include are:

He attends church regularly.

He makes devotions a priority.

He will attend all the training sessions. He can make a one-year commitment.

He will come fully prepared to each meeting.

He will develop a prayer team for himself as he leads the

With the leaders recruited it’s time to train them. You will find leaders have a greater sense of confidence if you spend time preparing them for the task you have recruited them to. It’s important never to ask men to do something unless you can give them the training and tools necessary to do the job. There are a couple of things you can do to train men to be effective small group leaders:

Give your leaders a good small group experience of their own. The best way to train someone to be a small group leader is to have them be in a healthy small group themselves. We start in our recruiting and training by asking existing leaders who they have in their small groups that they feel would be good leaders in the future. Our leaders are always looking for the guy they believe they can disciple with the purpose of seeing him lead his own group in the future. If someone has seen modeled what it is to lead a discussion, handle a tough question, and tame the guy who talks all the time, he is far better prepared to lead than the guy who hasn’t been in a group or the guy who has been in a dysfunctional group. Start by looking right under your nose-with the men in the groups.

Give your leaders an overview of the basics of small group ministry. You will want to have a time when you cover basic material on how to lead a group. You could have three consecutive Monday evening sessions or an extended session on a Saturday, or even one evening a month during the summer to train the leaders. We have done all three. They all have pluses and minuses. During these sessions we have tried to pass on the following information:
The purpose of small groups

Small group dynamics

Communication skills-listening attentively and accurately, stimulating feedback.

How to study the Bible inductively

How to lead a good discussion-asking good questions,
keeping the discussion going, handling conflict How to start and finish a group How to choose members

How to lead an effective prayer time

How to handle difficult people or questions.

Training Session Tips

Some things that will help the training sessions:

1. Give the men a good small group time. The training in itself can be one more opportunity for your men to have a healthy group experience. Structure your training to accomplish some of the things you want your leaders to accomplish with their own groups. Give the men a chance to get to knowone another and to pray for one another.

2. Give the men homework. We had our men read through the Brothers book by Promise Keepers over the course of three weeks. We had them do an inductive Bible study and share their results with a small group. We then had them write five questions from that study, and finally had them actually lead a discussion on one of the nights.

3. Make it practical. Instead of simply imparting a load of information, we tried to give them on-the-job training, having them apply what they were learning. By having to lead a discussion, they took what they learned in the class and used it immediately. One thing that is helpful-and a hoot-during this time is to have a couple of “plants” in the group-a guy who won’t stop talking, and another who asks the most bizarre questions you’ve ever heard.
4. Allow plenty of time for questions. For most of the men, leading a group is something new and they bring some fears with them. Allow them time to ask questions about what you discuss.

5. Keep it simple. Most men are bottom-line oriented. They don’t care about the history of small groups or intricate theories of how or why they work. They want to know when to start, what to cover and how to do it. Stick to the basics. If you don’t know where to start, most Christian bookstores have great material on leading small groups and training others to lead. Because of space I cannot include our entire training session.

Seven Small Group Decisions

Each small group faces seven decisions that determine much of the flavor of the group. Some of these questions you may have settled before you start training your men. Others you may sort through with your new recruits. Either way, your men need’ answers to these questions:

1. What is our purpose? The leader will in someway want
to advertise the group. He needs to be able to tell others what type of group he is starting. Is it a task group? An accountability group, study group, support group or hybrid group? He needs to be clear in his thinking on this one.

2. Who should be in the group? Is this group going to be an affinity group, with men in similar occupations to mine? Or will it be a diverse group? There are pros and cons to each. It really depends on what you want to do in the group. If you are looking to start an accountability group, you probably want an affinity group-guys you enjoy hanging out with who are experiencing the same pressures and stresses. Groups seem to jell easier at the start when the members are more or less at the same stage of life and at the same point in their spiritual journey.

3. Will our group be open or closed? Once the group is started will we allow new people into the group? Again this will be dependent on what the purpose of the group is. Men who want to join a sexual addiction support group need to be filtered through a group leader. Bible study groups may want to take new members when they reach a break in their material.

4. When will our group meet? Weekly? Biweekly? In the morning before work or in the evening after work-or during the Sunday school hour? I have seen that meeting every week helps to keep a group going. If a guy misses a meeting he doesn’t have to wait so long to get back into the swing of things.

5. Where do we meet? For the group just beginning, a restaurant may be okay. Most restaurants have tables large enough to handle groups of five or more. They may even have private rooms where your group can meet alone. Restaurants, of course, also give the added opportunity for a good meal. Men love that. The downside is the noise and men’s self-consciousness about talking through spiritual issues in a public place. It’s tough to break into groups to spend a significant time praying and sharing in the middle of a restaurant.
An alternative is to bring in bagels, muffins, donuts and juice to a conference room at someone’s office. Many of our groups meet in conference rooms around the community. Not only are these rooms usually quiet, they put the group on the men’s turf. Another possibility is to have the group in someone’s home. This works only if there is a rec room or study away from family.

6. What commitment level do we expect? Once a group has formed it’s a good idea to develop a group covenant-to put down in writing what is expected of the members and what the group is about. Ownership is key. It may take one or two sessions to work it out, but you will find it extremely helpful down the road. I would encourage you to go back to the covenant on a regular basis-every three months-to remind yourselves of why you exist. A sample covenant appears at the end of this chapter.

7. What are we going to study? If your group will have a study component, you will need to decide that either as a group or ahead of time as the leader, In order to get guys started in groups you might need to address some of the hot men’s issues, such as parenting, marriage, balancing work and home, to get them in. Once they’re hooked you will want to move them to a more well-rounded study that includes studying Bible books and developing Christian disciplines.

Starting Groups at Your Church

The leaders are recruited. They’re trained. They’re ready to go. What lies ahead is the process of structuring the ministry and drawing men into the groups. The following tips might be helpful in this process:
1. Find a coordinator for small groups. Groups are such an important, integral aspect of ministry you will want one of the men on your leadership team to be in charge of this ministry. He should be someone with experience as a small group leader and have a vision for multiplying himself through others.

He should have, or work with someone who has, administrative gifts. Not only will he he responsible for training leaders but also for getting men into the groups-sharing that task with the group leaders. At times, group organization can be a timeconsuming administrative nightmare.

2. Designate shepherds for the small group leaders, It’s common for leaders to give to others but feel uncared for themselves. Either the coordinator or someone on his team should take the responsibility of caring for group leaders-praying for leaders often, calling them weekly or biweekly to see how they are doing and meeting with them a couple of times a year. We have found that a shepherd is able to oversee up to six leaders. More than that is overwhelming.

3. Provide continuing education. Assemble your leaders once a quarter to provide further training, share and pray for one another and discuss problems in the groups. A possible schedule would look like this:

7:00-7:15 Refreshments and catching up

7:15-8:00 Break into small groups to share and pray for one another

8:00-8:10 Break

8:10-8:30 Discuss any problems coming up in the

8:30-9:00 Teaching on a topic related to leading small

4. Create windows for group start-ups. Certain times of the year are better than others for starting small groups. Use some of the highlights of the year to get them going. An obvious time would be after a Promise Keepers Conference. At the conference your men will hear lots of encouragement to get into a small group. You might want to consider having a post PK event where men can sign up. Another good time would be your fall kickoff. By starting at this time you can publicize nine-month groups that run from September through May. You can use the summer to train leaders and then make a big push at the fall kickoff. One final time to start groups is after a major special event-after a midyear retreat you probably will find men ready to join small groups. Remember to have those vital testimonies at every major event where a man tells how small groups have impacted him. Over a period of time your men will know when groups are likely to start and can look forward to that window of opportunity.

5. Encourage your leaders and other men to get into an inviting mode. Personal invitations are still the best way to get men into small groups. When we train our leaders we ask them to make a list of prospective participants and to start praying for them with the intent of asking them to join.

6. Publicize the small groups. One complaint you may hear from men is “I didn’t know about the small groups for men.” It really doesn’t matter how many times you have said itsome people keep missing it. Your ministry brochure should list current small groups, with the time and place they meet as well as the group leader’s name. Make sure you list the name and phone number of the person in charge of getting men into small groups-so that a man who is interested only has to make one call. Some churches have flyers with all the small groups listed-detailing when and where they meet, what they are studying and who to contact to join. These lists are great as long as they are kept current.

7. Stay flexible. After spending three years trying to match up men who wanted to be in small groups, we have altered our tactics. We have started telling our men that being in a small group is an option-but that we weren’t going to do all the work for them. We told them to go out and form groups on their own. We encouraged them to find men who were similar in maturity, some who they had things in common with and who shared similar schedules. We provided a small group starter kit and told them to go to it. We asked only that they let us know when they had a group going.

It’s remarkable to hear of all the groups that have started this way. This isn’t to say we don’t rely on training leaders and starting up official groups. But we realize that many men don’t fit into the nice neat packages we develop, so we allow the: to form their own groups, let us know what they’re up to an whether they would like any new people to join them.

8. Form small groups out of existing ministries. Anothr way to start groups is to use what already works for you. Thre ideas:

(a) Committee groups. Encourage working committees it the ministry to become a small group. I have twelve men re sponsible for the Top Gun ministry. These men meet weekly for two hours. Half the time is spent doing small group things, such as sharing, praying for one another and studying a variety of materials. The other half of the time is spent in business-developing the business plan for the ministry, setting goals, planning training sessions and making the ministry happen.

(b) ivlonthlymeetings. Many of you already have a monthly meeting for the men of your church. Incorporate into those meetings times to break into discussion groups. Then you can encourage those groups to meet the other weeks of the month on their own.

(c) Top Gun groups. One of the purposes of the Top Gun ministry is to provide a catalyst for new small groups to start in the church. Every May when the groups finish their time together, we challenge them to stay together as a small groupa TG II group. They have already spent two hours a week together for nine months. Some serious male banding has already transpired, so why not stay together? It’s a way for us to start about ten new groups each year. Having been in a Top Gun group for a year, these men are fully convinced of the need to be in a men’s small group for the rest of their lives.

9. Be creative. I could give you diagrams and charts of how this should all look but it wouldn’t do you much good. The best thing you can do is sit down with your leadership team, take the basic principles described in this chapter and in other books and develop your own model for small groups. Again,it comes down to what I said in the beginning: Each church is unique and the small group system will be unique as well.

Principles for an Effective Group

Finally, here are some points for your small group leaders to return to again and again to keep their groups sharp.

1. Keep your focus. Make sure you decide as a group up front what your purpose is. Stick to it. It will be easy to slide into other things and activities if you don’t remind one another of why you meet. Is it to study, to pray, be accountable, or a combination?

2. Start and finish on time. One person in the group should be responsible to start the group on time and let everyone know when the time everyone committed to is up.

3. Focus on people not programs. It’s easy to discuss deep subjects and to debate theological issues, and never get to matters of the heart. Start your group with plenty of time for group members to get to know one another. Schedule a night to socialize for this purpose.

4. Move slowly. Men don’t easily open up the hurts, pains and frustrations of life. It takes time. For vulnerability to happen in your group, start by developing an environment of love and acceptance, not judgment. In order for accountability to happen, honesty and trust must be in place first.
5. Take the lead. Vulnerability is caught not taught. If you are frustrated because no one is sharing, take the initiative. Share what is going on in your life. Most men won’t share fears, failures or feelings because they don’t know how. They have never been in an emotionally safe environment. You take the lead.

6. Live as a body. Some of the greatest ministry will takeplace outside your group, when specific needs arise in themen in your group. Make yourselves available to help in timesof need and feel free to call the others in your group for help.

7. Keep discussions going. When you discuss a chapter in
a book or a section of Scripture, there are three siople guide lines: Wait your turn. Stay on the topic. Keep it brief.

8. Cultivate soall group prayer. The ABCs of soall group prayer are: Audible, so all can hear. Brief, so that you do not take everyone else’s tioe. And Christ-centered, so you don’t spend all your tioe praying about Aunt Jane’s ingrown toe nail. If sooeone doesn’t feel coofortable praying out loud, make sure he knows he doesn’t have to.

9. Avoid the known killers of small groups. There are at least six ways to kill your group: aiolessness, poor leadership the wrong mix of oen, shallowness, individualism and competition. Be warned.

10. Just do it. Take these guidelines to heart, but plunge in and do small groups. They’re the stuff of real Christian faith.

Good Books on flow to Lead

Small Groups:

Brothers! Calling Men Into Vital Relationships, by Geoff Gorsuch, NavPress, Colorado Springs, Colo., 1994.

How Dynamic Is Your Small Group?by David Seemuth, Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1991.

Getting Together, by Em Griffith, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., 1982.

The Big Book on Small Groups, by Jeffrey Arnold, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., 1992.

Example of a Smalt Group


1. Total and complete confidentiality. What you hear her see here and say here stays here. I will say nothing that me be traced back or that could be injurious or embarrassing to my group members.

2. Be as open as you can with your life. I will be as open wit my life at this time as I can. I will show myself to you, letting you know who I am as a person.

3. Unconditional love. I will love and affirm you no matt( what you have said or done in the past. I will love you t you are and for what Christ wants to make of you.

4. Voluntary accountability. I will ask the group to hold in accountable for specific areas of my life. With my permit sion you can ask me about the goals I set with God, my fan ily, personal life and world. I expect you to lovingly nc “let me off the hook.” “As iron sharpens iron, so one ma sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). On the basis of thi verse, I ask you to please share with me areas in my life thu do not reflect Jesus, because I want to grow in personal hr liness.

5. Pray for one another. I promise to pray for the men in m group on a regular basis, to lift up their needs to the Lorc

6. Sensitivity to where people are at in the Lord. I understan every person in this group is at a different point in thei walk with the Lord. I will accept you the way you are, be encourage you to move on in the Lord.

7. Come prepared each week. I will have my work complete; and my verse memorized each week when I come to class I will make every effort to be present at class; it will hav high priority in my schedule.