Small Group Format Plans for Harvest FAQ
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the fact that Harvest will be adding small groups on a trial basis in 2016. The Wednesday activities have been harder for people to attend, and many people at Harvest (particularly folks who are newer to the church) are eager to find places to connect. So, while we don’t know whether a small group format will be a permanent part of our church life together (the session will be meeting in the coming months to do some longer-term strategic planning to figure that kind of thing out), we do want to start small groups on a trial basis for two reasons:
- We hope that people will be able to make more, deeper connections with others even during this trial period alone; and
- We hope to learn some things from this experiment that might help us better plan vision for the future of Harvest.
In this article, I will lay out some of the more practical details of what the elders are planning for the small group format. This is the information that we will be talking about in the congregational meeting on January 17, 2016, but we are hoping that presenting this to you in advance of the meeting might help to formulate questions that you can then bring to that meeting.
Overall Small Groups Plan Change
Important: While we had originally discussed running small groups every other week for two months for a total of four meetings, after discussion, the elders decided to extend this trial small groups period from two months to three months. Over the months of February, March, and April, we will plan on meeting for a total of six times.
Which group will you find yourself in?
Here is how the process will work, Lord-willing:
- If you want to be in a small group, sign up here.
- On that form, you’ll have the opportunity to mark nights that don’t work for you, as well as to note any other issues you’d like us to take into account.
- Our first priority in group assignment is to make sure that you are assigned to a group where the time works for you.
- Our second priority is to put you in a small group that is closest to you geographically or to accommodate any other needs you mention through the sign-up form.
Meeting Leaders and Hosts
Who will lead the meetings? Where will we be meeting?
Each elder on the session will be leading the discussions in our small groups. In the event that a leader is out of town or otherwise unable to lead, we are arranging to have back-ups placed in each small group who would be able to the lead the discussions in the absence of that group’s elder.
Our goal for these small groups is to meet in one another’s homes. Certainly, the church building can be available if we need, but the dynamic of these groups changes significantly when you move from a neutral location to visit someone’s home. Meeting in a home creates an environment that is far more conducive to the kind of fellowship that we are praying for.
We will not necessarily be meeting in the homes of the elders, however. Instead, on the sign-up form, you will have the option of volunteering your own home for one or more of the small group meetings. Please consider this opportunity for hospitality in the midst of our small groups processes.
Children in Small Groups
What about children? Are they allowed to participate? Will there be child care?
If you are a young person who is interested in participating with your parents in a small group, by all means participate. As a church, we believe strongly in the value of cross-generational ministry, so we absolutely want you to participate.
If, on the other hand, your children are too young to participate in the small group, please make a note of that on your sign-up form. We are planning on asking an older child to help watch the younger children as they play in another room from where the small group is meeting.
What will we do when we meet as small groups?
We want to keep our small group meetings pretty free and flexible so that you have ample opportunities actually to fellowship with other believers. So, the elders are planning for the meetings to include these elements:
If we are working on learning how to live out life together as the body of Christ, it’s important that we get to know each other and find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. We’ll spend a good amount of time talking with and praying for one another.
Time: 30 minutes
In order to grow, we need to stay in God’s word together. But at the same time, we don’t necessarily want to add yet another Bible study into your life, since some of you are in multiple already. Instead, we’ll study the passage of the sermon text for the week. Some weeks, we will study the passage from the previous week, and other weeks, we will study the passage for the coming week. Since this is an experiment, we’d like to try different formats to see which kind of a Bible study might be best for conversations.
Time: 30 minutes
One of our biggest practical hopes for small groups is that these will be places where we will more regularly pray corporately together. Sometimes we will split into groups of men and women to facilitate more open sharing, but we want to pray together for concerns and praises in our own lives and the lives of our neighbors in our city, our state, our country, and the wider world.
If praying in a group makes you anxious, don’t worry—there’s no pressure for you to pray out loud, although we do hope that you will share your prayer requests so that other people can pray for you. That said, if you are apprehensive about praying publicly, talk about this with your elder small group leader so that you can potentially grow in your confidence over the course of the small group meetings.
Time: 30 minutes
Any Other Small Group Format Questions?
Did I miss anything? If you have other concerns, either contact me directly ([email protected]), or leave your question in the comments, and someone will try to answer it there.