Grace Group Best Practices

Grace Group Best Practices

Where do Grace Groups meet?

  • Meeting in public places (e.g., coffee shops, fast food stores, malls, etc.) have the following advantages:
    • Able to reach new people   
    • Promotes an environment of safety  
    • Easier to find and access  
    • Can bring/buy own food
    • Serves as a witness to community

What if a Grace Group meeting day falls on a holiday? What if a majority of members cannot attend the week’s meeting?

Because Grace Groups meet weekly, plan ahead to meet on another day earlier or later that week when all or a majority of members can attend. For consistency, fight to keep the meeting every week.

What is the duration of a weekly Grace Group meeting?

The duration of a meeting should be one hour up to the maximum of one hour and fifteen minutes. A meeting longer than the recommended length may hinder new people from wanting to return.

What is the general flow of a Grace Group meeting?

The flow of the meeting follows this acrostic G.R.O.U.P.

  • G    Gather together for a brief time of welcome and catch up
  • R    Read the discussion guide
  • O    Open up for discussion
  • U    Uphold one another’s needs in prayer
  • P    Pray specifically for each member’s endeavor in reaching out to new people

How do I make a new person feel welcomed in our Grace Group?

Most new people do not come unannounced. Usually a new person comes to the meeting because of an invitation and/or relationship with another member. This allows time to inform the Grace Group that a new person will be attending, and to be ready to welcome and interact with the new person with the goal of making meaningful connections.  

  • Be sensitive to new people. Protect them from feeling like they have to read or pray out loud at initial meetings they attend. 
  • Do not use Christian jargon when seekers or unbelievers are present. They may feel left out. 
  • Do not let anyone over talk or dominate the discussion.

How do I conduct an interactive discussion between members?   

  • Build an environment of honesty, trust, safety, and confidentiality. The Leader’s honesty and transparency sets the bar. Respect confidentiality; what is shared in Grace Group, stays in Grace Group. 
  • Encourage participation so that everyone has a chance to share and contribute. Gently encourage someone to speak, but do not force them if they are not ready.  
  • Remind the Grace Group regularly that everyone has something valuable to say.   
  • Have people talk to the Grace Group rather than just to the Leader. 
  • Ask active-listening questions such as, “What do you think about that?” or “Do you have something to add?”  
  • Be empathetic to others’ thoughts and feelings, allowing them to be vulnerable without fear of judgment or condemnation. 
  • Wisely use the scriptures from the Discussion Guide and other verses to address issues and opinions that arise.

How do I address an overly talkative or dominant personality in discussion?   

  • Before the discussion begins, remind the Grace Group that everyone has something valuable to say.   
  • If that type of person continues to over talk, ask to meet them after meeting to express your concern and appeal to them to let others speak.   
  • Before the next meeting, privately remind them to let others speak also.

How do I maintain confidentiality of matters shared in a Grace Group meeting?  

  • On a monthly basis, share with the Grace Group that an environment of honesty, trust, safety, and confidentiality is what allows members to genuinely share the challenges and failures they are facing or have faced. For example, “We all desire this kind of environment, so let’s work to build it. What is shared in the Grace Group, stays in the Grace Group.” 
  • If an issue of safety is disclosed (e.g., violence, self-destruction, etc.), talk with your Coach immediately.

How do I follow up on members and new people?   

  • If you continue to contact Grace Group members, they will continue to come.  
  • See pages 48-51 of The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders

How do I encourage and track progress of members going through Grow Through G.R.A.C.E. classes?   

  • Have someone from the Grace Group “walk” with them into the classes they need to attend.   
  • Use the Follow-up Tracking Sheet available from your Coach.

How do I encourage members to reach out and build connections with people far from God?

  • Jesus called us to be “fishers of men.” Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict and convince that we each have a personal responsibility as a disciple to reach out.   
  • People do what people see the Leader doing. Openly share your “fishing stories” of your interactions with your “one.”   
  • Building connections means to start relationships that could be built around common connections (e.g., hobbies, recreations, occupations, life seasons, etc.)   
  • See pages 36-42 of The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders

How do I find an apprentice?

  • See pages 66-68 of The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders

L2L TALK  

  1. What information, insights, or challenges regarding Grace Group meeting stood out to you? Why? 
  2. What practices have you seen and experienced in a Grace Group that have promoted a safe environment of inclusion, warmth, honesty, love and challenge?  
  3. What other questions do you have regarding Grace Group meetings?

Grace Group Multiplication

Grace Group Multiplication

How can I multiply a Grace Group? 

  • Make multiplication the goal in the beginning of the Grace Group’s formation to establish that value up front. (Matthew 28:19-20; Proverbs 29:18)  
  • Know when a Grace Group is “pregnant” and prepare to push the new “baby” out.     (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) 
  • View each member as a potential leader for future Grace Groups and test them by giving them simple things to do. (Acts 6:1-7)
  • Cover all Leaders through a relational structure for ongoing coaching. (Luke 10:1-23)

Breakdowns

Cluster (Leaders and Apprentice): When one Grace Group breaks into two or more separate groups, but continues to meet at the same time and location to better facilitate discussion and involvement of members

Branch (Apprentice): When a Grace Group grows and reproduces another Grace Group.
Key signal: when regular attendance is a steady eight or more members.
Two ways this can occur: 

  1. The new leader stays with the original Grace Group, and the original Leader leaves to pioneer the new branch with his/her portion of the Grace Group.  
  2. The new Leader leaves to lead the newly branched Grace Group.

Plant (Leader and Apprentice): When the tripod leaves to start another Grace Group with a whole new people group who would not, or could not attach to the current Grace Group (Mark 6:7)

Extension (Leader and Apprentice): When a Leader and other members go out of their current Grace Group to reach a people group.

H.O.S.T. Gathering (Anyone): A casual gathering of seekers with a common connection (e.g., work, interest, etc.) who meet to read and discuss a topic or subject using designated curriculum with the goals of discovering Jesus while developing relationships with believers. Though not structured like a Grace Group, it has the potential to become one.

What is a H.O.S.T. and H.O.S.T. Gathering?

A H.O.S.T. is one who is willing to reach the unreached by connecting with people who are far from God.  A H.O.S.T. Gathering is a casual meeting of seekers with a common connection (e.g., the H.O.S.T., work, interest, etc.) who meet to read and discuss a topic or subject using designated curriculum with the goals of discovering Jesus while developing relationships with believers. Though not structured like a Grace Group, it has the potential to become one.

What are the qualifications of a H.O.S.T.?

Unlike a Grace Group, a H.O.S.T. is not a Leader.   A H.O.S.T. is sent out by his or her Grace Group, but is still in connection with the Leader for coaching and the Grace Group for relationship.

  • H   Heart for people far from God
  • O   Occupy a place to gather (e.g., table at Starbucks)
  • S    Start and facilitate the discussion
  • T   Take time to pray before, at, and after the       meeting

L2L TALK

  1. What information, insights, or challenges regarding the Grace Group Leader stood out to you? Why?  
  2. What method(s) could be applied to your group to multiply your Grace Group?

Grace Group Leadership

Grace Group Leadership

What are the qualifications of a Grace Group Leader?   

  • One who puts their faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior   
  • One who has a consistent, growing relationship with Jesus as a disciple   
  • One who is in the process of completing the Grow Through G.R.A.C.E. classes and has     completed the One to One book   
  • One who believes and lives the mission and values of Grace Bible Church Pearlside   
  • One who engages in fulfilling the Great Commission to “go and make disciples”   
  • The heart of a Grace Group Leader is to L.E.A.D.

What should be the motivation of a Grace Group Leader? 

  • To love God and love others
    • “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37) 
  • To serve God and give Him glory in everything they do
    • Jesus came to serve and not be served. His desire was to give glory to God, His Father. “...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
  • Because leadership is a calling, we do not serve for a title, position, or performance, but as a lifestyle as a servant of God.    
    • “...have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Grace Group Leader?  

  • Must be consistently growing in relationship with Jesus through personal spiritual disciplines and by attending Grace Group and service regularly  
  • Co-leads with Apprentice with the goal of branching or planting a Grace Group within a year   
  • Meets regularly with Apprentice to “Grow and Go” by processing personal health/growth and the Grace Group’s health/growth   
  • Leads Grace Group into serving in a volunteer ministry   
  • Attends monthly Leadership Group meetings and periodic Summits
  • Reports weekly attendance to Coach using the following categories: (e.g., 3c2 = three people in the “Circle 2” category)
    • Circle 1 - a "saved" person who regularly attends the Grace Group
    • Circle 2 - a "saved" person who inconsistently attends the Grace Group
    • Circle 3 - a "seeker" who is not yet "saved," but attends the Grace Group 

What should a Grace Group Leader do to P.R.E.P. for a meeting?   

  • Preview the week’s Grace Group Discussion Guide before the meeting to become familiar with the content    
  • Recognize possible points of emphasis and also points that may need clarification     
  • Examine your life for examples to share    
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus and glorify God through the discussion and        meeting

L2L TALK

  1. What information, insights, or challenges regarding the Grace Group Leader stood out to you? Why?  
  2. In regards to L.E.A.D., which do you feel comfortable doing? Why? Which do you feel      challenged in? Why?
  3. What other questions do you have regarding Grace Group Leadership? 
  4. L2L Exercise (optional):  Do the P.R.E.P. exercise for the week’s Grace Group Discussion Guide together.

Grace Group Components

Grace Group Components

What are the Components of a Healthy Grace Group?   

  • Leader:  one who leads a Grace Group   
  • Apprentice:  one who co-leads with the Leader with goal of leading their own Grace Group within a year   
  • Assistant:  one who supports the Leader and Apprentice   
  • Seeker:  a member of a Grace Group who is not yet “saved”

What is the Formal Structure of Grace Group Leadership?   

  • Pastor:  one who leads a Grace Group and oversees Coaches and Leaders   
  • Lead Coach:  one who is appointed by a Pastor, leads a Grace Group, and oversees three or more Grace Groups   
  • Coach:  one who leads a Grace Group and oversees at least one other Grace Group   
  • Leader:  one who leads a Grace Group  
  • Apprentice:  one who co-leads with the Leader with goal of leading their own Grace Group within a year   
  • Assistant:  one who supports the Leader and Apprentice   
  • Attendees:  ones who come to a Grace Group, including Seekers

Seasons of a Grace Group   

  • Gathering:  first establish who the core or tripod is, develop a list of unreached friends, pray over them and make connections   
  • Reaching:  intentionally reach out to seekers, former attenders, and present attenders not yet in a Grace Group
  • Establishing:  grow as disciples of Christ in relationship with God, one another, and the unreached   
  • Reproducing:  when a Grace Group gives birth to an entirely new Grace Group or adds a Grace Group extension to current one.

L2L TALK

Pastor  ___________________________________
Lead Coach  ______________________________
Coach  ___________________________________
Leader  __________________________________
Apprentice  _______________________________
Assistant  _________________________________
Attendees  ________________________________

What season is your Grace Group in now? How can you move to the next season?

What Is A Grace Group?

What Is A Grace Group?

What is a Grace Group? 

  • A Grace Group consists of a minimum of four Christians and seekers led by an empowered and equipped Leader.   
  • During a weekly Grace Group meeting, members share their life victories and challenges, go through the discussion guide, encourage one another to reach out, and pray for members’ needs and requests.   
  • Members are encouraged to complete GBCP’s Grow Through G.R.A.C.E. equipping classes to further their spiritual growth.

What is the main goal of a Grace Group? 

  • To make disciples who grow (Great Commandment) and go (Great Commission)   
  • The goal of each Grace Group is to reach the unreached, make disciples, and reproduce     another Grace Group. This is done by equipping Apprentices, as well as launching H.O.S.T. Gatherings.

What is a disciple? 

  • The Greek word (original language of the New Testament) for disciple is mathetes, which means follower and student of a master with the goal of becoming like the master.

What is discipleship? 

  • Discipleship is an ongoing journey in relationship with Jesus with the goal of becoming more like Him and reaching the world with His Gospel.   
  • Discipleship involves three key relationships:    
    • Relationship with God     
    • Relationship with other Christians       
    • Relationship with the unreached

What are other goals of a Grace Group? 

  • To reach the unreached, establish believers, equip disciples, and empower to influence   
  • To encourage and stimulate discipleship by processing life through the truth and application of God’s Word
  • To connect God’s power to people’s purpose, passion, plans, and problems through prayer •  
  • To be an extension of God’s love by serving the community

How do I start a Grace Group? 

  • Determine what kind of a Grace Group to start. Remember: “Birds of a feather flock together.” People connect best around:    
    • Common needs (e.g., single moms, young moms)      
    • Common interests (e.g., diving, fishing, coaches, sports)    
    • Common age groups (e.g., high school, college, young adults)     
    • Common experiences (e.g., divorce, drug abuse)   
  • Value the homogenous principle, especially as it concerns gender. It leads to more transparency, deeper sharing, safer interaction, and more effective evangelism.
  • Establish the Leader, Apprentice, and Assistant to form a foundational tripod.   
  • Have each person in this core assemble a list of best potential prospects to reach and come together to pray over these names for a predetermined period of time (one month is often suggested).   
  • Connect personally with those whom the Lord prompts to build bridges of relationship. Begin by first inviting them into your life.  
  • Invite those who seem most open to the Grace Group. Invite people by emphasizing the opportunity to meet people, not just to attend a meeting. The emphasis is on the people and the relationships, not the meeting. People want relationship.   
  • Invite those outside of the church, those who used to come to church, and those inside the church.   
  • Be open to meet anytime and anywhere that is best for the Grace Group and those the Grace Group is reaching out to.

L2L TALK

  1. What information, insights, or challenges regarding Grace Groups stood out to you? Why?  
  2. What are some important experiences that shaped you and are currently shaping you as a disciple? What could you do to help others have similar experiences?   
  3. What other questions do you have regarding Grace Group?

Why Grace Groups?

Why Grace Groups?

Why Grace Groups?

The heart of Grace Bible Church Pearlside (GBCP) is Grace Groups (GG). We exist to honor God by reaching the unreached and making disciples. We do this by obeying the Great Commandment to love God and love others, and fulfilling the Great Commission to go and make disciples.

“He (Jesus) answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Small Groups and the Early Church

Small Groups are not a new thing. They have been around since the days of Moses. The nation of Israel had grown to three million and presented an overwhelming problem for one man to lead. So heeding the advice of his father-in-law, Moses divided the nation into smaller groups, even down to a group of ten. (Exodus 18:14-26)

The Early Church organized itself into small groups to sustain and further church growth and outreach. Jesus employed a small group to train the future leaders of His church.

At GBCP, small groups are called Grace Groups: Grace to Grow, Grace to Go.

Among the multitudes that followed Jesus around the countryside, Jesus chose twelve men to be in His small group, so He could train and release them to be His leaders and apostles. Within this group, Jesus spent more time with three individuals to train them for their unique leadership calling and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

To meet the spiritual and physical needs of three thousand new believers, the Early Church, when not meeting altogether at a temple to hear the apostles’ teachings, met in small groups in homes. They came together to discuss the Word, pray, and fellowship, so they could continue to reach out to others with the gospel. (Acts 2:41-47)

Like the Early Church, we have weekly large gatherings called services, and weekly small groups called Grace Groups. These groups meet together for discipleship, to process life together through the lens of the Word of God, and to reach out to people who are far from God. We have identified the functions of a Grace Group with the slogan “Grace to Grow, Grace to Go.”

Grace to Grow

  • To continue to grow as a disciple with the goals of loving Jesus more and becoming more like Him
  • To have a community with other disciples who challenge and encourage one another to apply God’s Word in their lives  
  • To become more like Jesus through discussion, application, and prayer.  Here discipleship and relationship go hand-in-hand.

Grace to Go  

  • To go and reach the unreached. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to “go and     make disciples” connects going and growing to one another. As we go, we grow. 
  • To fulfill every disciple’s personal responsibility to go, we use and encourage the strategy of “Each one, reach one, each year.” As each person diligently reaches out to build a relationship with someone over a period of time, opportunities will arise to share the gospel. Members can partner together to reach their “one.” Here evangelism and relationship go hand-in-hand.

L2L TALK

  1.  What information, insights, or challenges regarding the purpose and mission of Grace Groups stood out to you? Why?
  2. Which do you seem to emphasize more in your life, “Grace to Grow” or “Grace to Go?” Why? What could be done to increase the other? 
  3. What other questions do you have regarding Grace Groups?