My second slice of Orange was a breakout with Tom Shefchunas called Transitioning to a Small Group Model.
Tom started out by asking a very basic question "What does it mean to transition to a small group ministry model?" There were several answers from attendees, but my favorite was "changing the focus from passing on information to building relationships."
Here are Tom's tips for transition:
Transition the vocabulary.
The first indicator that there is a transition will be the words you use to describe the environment.
Sunday school teacher becomes small group leader.
Classroom becomes small group. One is a geographical location and the other is a relational situation.
Weekly lesson becomes small group guide.
Transition you strategies and your goals, but not your mission.
The Mission - to help a child or student develop a vibrant, growing, mature, personal, powerful, incredible faith of their own.
We want to create shared quality experiences for the small group leader and child and attach biblical truth to it.
Transition the centerpiece.
Who do the kids introduce their guest to when they first walk into the room? This will indicate the centerpiece of your ministry. The small group and small group leader should be the focus.
Transition the volunteers.
The quality of your program will rise and fall with the volunteers you allow to be the centerpiece of your ministry.
Being a small group leader requires a multi year commitment. For middle school ministry, we ask for 3 years and student ministry we ask for 4 years and leaders move up with their groups. This builds relationships.
Transition your program.
The program will move from being the point of your ministry to support and set up for group. The point of Sunday will become what happens with groups. Sunday planning will begin with groups as the priority.
Transition your events.
The event will move from a fun outing to a foundational, strategic part of building a great relationship between the child or student and their leader.
I really loved what Tom had to say about creating a culture for our small group leaders. Beginning with recruiting from vision rather than need and including training and support.
Tom and Reggie Joiner have written a book called Lead Small which I am super excited to read. There is also a new online community for small group leaders of preschool, elementary, and students which I am equally excited about at Lead Small.