Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Small Group

I just watched an excellent video by small groups champion Mike Mack on the Seven Vital Signs of a Small Group (thanks to Randall Neighbour's blog). It's not a short video but an in depth discussion of some very important elements for small groups which Mike uses to help groups assess their health. These come from his book "Small Group Vital Signs".
Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Small Group
1. Christ-centered Community
2. Overflowing Leadership
3. Shared Leadership
4. Proactive Leadership
5. Authentic Community
6. Ministry to Others
7. Discipling Environment

Here are some key notes or takeaways from this video for each vital sign above...
1. Christ-centered community - consistently focused on the presence, power and purposes of Christ in our midst. We recognize that He is our real leader; His mission is our mission. We don't place primary focus on leader, curriculum, people's problems, or issues like raising children. We seek first Kingdom of God... This vital sign is foundational for others.

2. A healthy group has a healthy overflowing leader - one with a vibrant growing relationship with God including consistent time spent with Him using disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, fasting, solitude, etc. He/she is a shepherd, leading out of the overflow of what God is pouring into their heart. Your main job as a leader is to stay very close to Jesus.

3. A healthy group shares leadership with a core team (2-3 typically, sharing in prayer, roles, using individual gifts and abilities).

4. A healthy group is proactive - it has developed and written God sized goals and plans for the next year or more. We know who are are, what God has called us to be and to do, and we know where we are going.

5. A healthy group lives in healthy authentic community - a group that is not only committed to meeting together regularly and consistently but in doing life together between meetings. We are friends who care about each other and want to grow together. Ask these questions of your group: Are you carrying each other's burdens? Building one another up? Admonishing? Taking off masks? Accepted for who you are?

6. A healthy group ministers to others - a group that is intentionally open and inviting new people, serving others outside the group on a consistent basis, praying for our friends and looking for opportunities to serve.

7. A healthy group is a discipling environment. (In a sense, this is the cumulative effect of all the above) Such a group is intentional about creating an environment where people are maturing in their faith, committed to growing spiritually through discussion and application of scripture. One-on-one accountability or Mentoring may be a part of this; there is spiritual edification. Your group has to commit to this. It should be a part of your goals. Discipleship happens when individuals are spending time with God on a daily basis. As groups we need to wrestle with the Scriptures together - it's where truth meets life.

How is your group doing?