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Farming and Small Groups

09.11.2014 posted by Chris Marchand


The fall ministry season has begun. Most youth leaders are kick starting their small groups again or starting new ones. Schedules are set up. Invites have been sent out. You might have already had some type of small group kickoff rally to get everyone pumped about small groups this fall. Materials have been ordered and passed out. You might have done a small group leader training. You probably have your curriculum all broken down, and you are getting your lessons ready.

All of that sounds amazing. There is nothing like the excitement of a well-prepared small group leader. However, before you get started. I want to invite you to consider something a little different as you begin this new ministry year. What if instead of keeping a schedule and running through another year of small group programming you looked at small group differently. What if small groups have more to do with farming than with keeping a daily modern urban schedule? Hear me out.

I would love to spend a year on a farm. Work is never finished on a farm. Work is done in community. It’s messy, and a lot of it is completely out of our control. We cannot make it rain or cause the sun to shine. We cannot prevent frosts or natural disasters. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like small group. Here are a couple things to consider when running your small group this year.

A small group leader like a farmer needs to prepare the field. Farmers spend a good portion of their time preparing a field to receive seeds. You just don’t go out to a field drop some seeds on the ground and ta da you have a healthy high yield crop. The secret is in the soil and preparing that soil to receive the seed. Don’t just drop Bible knowledge on the heads of your kids and think it will just magically make its way to their hearts. One fifteen-minute Bible lesson once a week is not the secret formula for life transformation. You need to prepare the field (their hearts). You need to spend time with these students and “go native” where they live and do life. You need to dig deep into their lives and become an expert in them. Teach them slowly what it means to live reverently before God and give them opportunities to watch you practice. The more time you spend preparing the field, the better off your harvest will be in the end.

A small group leader like a farmer needs to tend the field. A farmer does not plant their crop and walk away. There are no “microwave” set it and forget it solutions to farming. The weather constantly changes. Pests can infiltrate a crop and kill it off. A long drought can be devastating. Your students need to be tended to. If all the time you ever spend with your small group is an hour a week then you’re doing it wrong. Everyone is busy. Everyone has the same amount of time to spend in a week. Like the farmer, you need to be watching your crop. You need to be watching the storms approaching the lives of your students. You need to be on guard for the pests that will slowly eat away at their lives. You might need to reach in and grab a handful of soil to see how much spiritual moisture has slowly leached its way out of their lives and intervene before spiritual drought sets in. A small group leader is not a passive job. Like the farmer, keep a watchful eye and engage the lives of your students.

A small group leader like a farmer needs to harvest the field. A good farmer knows when it’s time to get his or her crop off the field. It cannot be too early or too late. If you talk with farmers long enough they just seem to know when it’s the right time. It’s a combination of things that don’t exactly equal out to an exact science. It’s part science but also part intuition or x-factor. Your students cannot stay planted in the field forever. If they do, they’ll rot and waste away their God-given gifts. Get your small group plugged into the larger body NOW. Lead them, train them, disciple them and when the moment is right get your group off the field so that they can make a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.

My hope and prayer is that your small groups are places where tremendous growth will take place this year. Remember the farmer. Prepare the field. Tend the field. Harvest the field.

Photo by kev_walsh

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