Occasionally you will disciple others who are either leading a small ministry or attempting to begin one. Let’s say, for example, your disciples want to start a fraternity ministry or perhaps launch an Impact movement. They need someone to disciple them in leading or starting a ministry. Competency in this task is ultimately the key to developing multiple movements on the same campus or coaching ministries on several campuses concurrently (catalytic). Your disciples will need coaching and direction in the following areas.
THEY NEED A PLAN
Show them how to do a strategic plan. Help them articulate an attainable goal, something that can be written out on paper. Practically speaking, together you are not planning out an entire ministry. You’re helping them to start a specialized or contextualized small group that reaches one of the many separate and distinct campus communities. Only when multiple groups have formed will you need to think in broader ministry terms. The goal I usually move them toward is a contextualized small group with 12 to 15 members. It’s tangible, and the steps to get there become fairly obvious.
With that as your north star, help them think through the logical steps that must happen to get there. There must be clear action steps and without you they simply will not be able to conceive of them. What follows are some of those key action steps.
DECIDE ON THE PARTICULARS OF THE SMALL GROUP
The first step in launching this small group is to decide when, where, and what the small group should study. Content is shaped by two things: the audience you are targeting (African Americans, Greeks, a sorority, etc.), and topics that audience might find interesting. If you can not find specialized content, such as “Bible Studies for Greeks,” then you must think in terms of topics that have drawing power: The DaVinci Code, Groups Exploring God, Revelation and the Middle East, etc.
TRAINING ON LEADING A SMALL GROUP
Your disciples will need some training on how to lead a small group. Think through what you would want them to know, buy them The Ultimate Road Trip, and give them an opportunity to watch you lead your study.
PUBLICIZE THE SMALL GROUP
Next, coach them in how to publicize the new group. Identify the target audience such as the Asian Christian Fellowship). You are seeking to gather Christians who are members of this community, because to get started you’ll need a critical mass of people.
Then publicize the topic you decided would have drawing power to this audience—“Is Jesus Black, White, or Does It Matter?” If possible, include images of the target audience on the flyer.
Besides flyers brainstorm other ways to publicize this inaugural meeting: surveys, personal invitations, quarter sheets in mailboxes, etc.
AFTER THE FIRST MEETING
You need to debrief with your disciples on what they did in their first meeting, but more importantly be a cheerleader, for they have taken a huge step of faith. Ask questions and give input where needed.
After they have had several small group meetings, revisit the original goals. How are they going to grow the group from five to 12 to 15 people? Brainstorm with them about where they can gather more people. Should they bring in a speaker, do a study on a hot topic, make personal phone calls, or do more publicity? The group needs to go on steroids and gather critical mass; by all possible means help them get the group to a stable dozen and get it out of intensive care.
Why is the goal 12 to 15 students? Realistically, at least half of these people will not return the following year. But if you can begin the next year with a handful of students, the fall influx will quickly bump the group up to 14 or 15 and now you have a ministry. A ministry is usually launched over two years.
ESTABLISH A LEADERSHIP CORE
Now that the group is up and running, your disciple needs to assemble a core of leaders to help him or her lead. It may be just one other student who has surfaced with a heart to help, but this step is critical. A leadership team allows for some of the more mundane tasks to be spread out, and breeds greater ownership and involvement in those brought into leadership. Give your disciples input on how to form, challenge, and structure the leadership of the small group. You might offer your assistance in meeting with the leadership.
COMPONENTS OF A MINISTRY
Starting a small group has its own unique path steps, which we have just reviewed, but once the group, which we might now call a ministry, is up and running, the group itself needs a plan to make sure it stays on track. Take your disciples to Acts 2:41-47, and pull out the following components of ministry: prayer, study of the Scripture, community, evangelism, and discipleship. Train them in how to make sure these components are being lived out in the small group, even if it is the lowest level of implementation.
You know the value of a retreat in accelerating a ministry and building relationships. Teach this to your disciples. If they are able to get a handful of their small group to go on a retreat, a conference, or even an overnight function, the small group will become a community.
As your disciples gets new people popping in each week, train them on how to set up and conduct follow-up appointments. They need to get in touch personally with these visitors if they want them to return. Use this as an opportunity to share the gospel, or go through some basic follow up.
With all of this accomplished, your disciples will have the raw material to relaunch in the fall. With experience, a committed core of attendees, a few other leaders, and a whole new crop of incoming freshmen, this small group could very well become a movement which will have its own coaching concerns. But that’s for another day.
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