Implementing - Oversight
(comments at end of section)


Oversight is the broad understanding of the role and place of Small Group Ministry within the congregation. and the factors that need to be in place for the program to be strong/sustainable.
Specific responsibility may depend on the size of the program and change as the program grows.

Oversight Functions
Guide the program
Keep the vision of Small Group Ministry
Support Leadership, Membership, Content, and Visibility functions

Oversight Leadership
Oversight is provided by a Committee or Team (Coordinator, minister, Group Leaders/facilitators). The role functions of each will vary between new and longer-existing programs, the size of the program, and the congregational characteristics.

New program. A small number of individuals and the minister study the process of starting the program. This group may become facilitators or the core of an ongoing Steering Committee. Established program. The oversight can be done by the coordinator and minister. Input from a larger group, such as a Steering Committee, gives breadth to ways of addressing the program logistics.
Smaller programs with 2-4 groups: Coordinator, minister. (When there is no minister or a consulting minister, the Coordinator may be the key person for the program.) Larger programs
*Program with 5-10 groups: Committee + minister(s) + coordinator
*Programs with 10-20+ groups: Steering Committee, subgroups + ministers + staff

The role of the Minister is key in whether and how a Small Group Ministry Program works. Visible support and active involvement of the minister is a factor in success. Role of minister varies in implementation and stage of the program and the size of the congregation. The minister does not do this alone: Small Group Ministry is a program of the congregation rather than a program of the minister. However, if the minister is not involved and not supportive, the program probably will not succeed.

Major functions of minister.
*Encourages groups to provide ministry to each other, and this extends to the entire congregation.
*Advocates for the program
--Provides resources
--Assists with selection and development of program leadership (including facilitators)
--Includes Small Group Ministry in messages from the pulpit.
--Is a resource for all areas of the program.

The Minister: Starting Small Group Ministry.
*Orients congregation to the concepts and process.
*Actively involved in the recruitment and selection of the lay leadership.
*May be involved in writing or selecting session plans.

The Minister with an established program
Longevity of the current ministry (a minister in place since the inception of the program or 5+ years)
Same minister: Have you seen the role of the minister change? Possible changes:
*Congregation or the program itself may grow, requiring more lay leadership attention.
*Minister and lay leadership increase their confidence in each other and greater sharing may occur.
*Minister may, intentionally or otherwise, be less involved to the point of not being as supportive of the program. Reinforcement of the ministerial role may be needed.

Program continues, minister changes. How do you orient a new minister to the established program?
*Search process. include questions in the search process.
*Include Small Group Ministry Program in the candidating week. (Suggestions: meeting with Program Coordinator, Steering Committee, and Facilitators, and participants in groups.)
*Minister arrives. Start with clear expectations on the parts of all of the 'players'.
Ongoing program.
*Encourages shared ministry and may take more of a support rather than administrative role.
*Is available to the lay leadership for group and faith development

Without settled minister
Shared ministry.
*A designated lay leader assumes the coordinating function in the absence of and/or by delegation by the minister.
*To the degree possible, the structure of Small Group Ministry is in the hands of laity, especially the facilitation of the Small Group Ministry groups. (The minister as the facilitator of a groups brings an imbalance in the group, as the role of the minister in and of itself brings a degree of influence.)

Interim Minister
It is not the role of the Interim Minister to start Small Group Ministry, unless that is part of the goals and arrangement of the interim period, usually 1-2 years.
It takes at least 6 months to get Small Group ministry started, and would take a great deal of attention that might be needed in addressing other parts of congregational life.
If the interim minister starts Small Group Ministry, the intentional focus is on building the structure for sustainability.

How the interim minister relates to the ongoing Small Group Ministry program:
*Successes: Supports the ongoing program and interacts as needed in the interim period.
*At the very least, the coordinator keeps the interim minister informed of the program status. This helps the interim keep small group ministry in the picture in the interim period.

The Coordinator/Director
*The designated role of coordinator may be a voluntary or staff position, depending somewhat on the size of the program and congregation.

Coordinator: Management functions *Oversees program membership and growth Manages data base of facilitators and groups. *Oversees group formation process, group status, and ongoing new memberships *Is a resource for service projects, and may track, acknowledge, and publicize groups' service projects *Submits annual budget request to Board of Directors *Submits/presents Annual Report and other reports to Board of Directors/congregation Coordinator: Shared functions *Coordinates with minister(s) on upcoming session topics, Facilitators' Meetings, enrichment workshops, and facilitator appreciation events. Consults with minister and facilitators to form groups and assimilate new members. Works with minister to promote Small Group Ministry within the congregation *Facilitators: Works with minister and Steering Team to select, recruit, orient, train, and support facilitators. Maintains contact with facilitators through meetings and individually. *Works with Committee: Plans and attends Steering Team meetings. Works with Steering Team and minister to publicize Small Group Ministry, including newsletter articles. Works with Steering Team, makes long-range plans and evaluates and modifies the program design.

Small Group Ministry Committee
*The SGM Committee works to ensure the vitality of the Small Group Ministry program as it furthers the mission of the church.

Committee Composition: Separate Entity
*The Committee is comprised of the SGM Coordinator, Minister; and members from the congregation who may or may not have been involved with the Small Group Ministry program.
*The Committee includes interactions with other parts of the congregation regarding how
Small Group Ministry supports the whole congregation, and to enhance the program.
*Able to provide insight regarding the program, in addition to group issues. This includes recognition of Leaders.
Committee Composition: Group Leaders
*Group Leaders bring the group experiences, essential understanding of how the program works, but it may be a limited vision of the overall program.
*Group Leaders may feel this is extra commitment, in addition to their own group meetings.

The placement will differ from congregation to congregation, depending on overall congregational structure. Factors to consider include:

*Location may influence visibility, program oversight, resources available, and recognition within the congregation.
*The integrity of Small Group Ministry is maintained, regardless of location.
*Resources are available and identified for Small Group Ministry.
*Location is some congregations:
Separate entity or program
Under Ministry or Under Pastoral Care
With Adult Programming or Lifespan Faith Development

Evaluation/Assessment. This is done to identify what is going well and what needs modification in the groups and the program as a whole.
Assessment is ongoing at multiple levels, all of the time and at specific times, formally and informally. Guidelines for assessing are found in the basic Small Group Ministry descriptions and in the specifics of a congregation's program.
*Be sincere in using feedback. Therefore, ask what you really want to know, what information you can use, and what is realistic to request.
*Focus on strengths and evoke commitment. What is going well? What would you like to continue and/or expand? What is needed to enhance the program? What can you do to enhance the program?
*Assessment results in a plan that provides change to a specific part or entire program.

Ways to Assess Small Group Ministry:
--Meetings: Facilitator meetings, periodic meetings of participants
--Questionnaires (or questions on general congregational surveys) for participants and the congregation in general.
--Interviews: When people leave a group, randomly from participants and non-participants.
--Stories and testimonials: Informal conversation, presentations to newcomers, during services, newsletter articles.
Assessment Considerations
Done at various levels:
*Assessment is ongoing, from each time a group meets, to regular facilitator of steering committee meetings, to annual surveys.
*Assessment also extends to the influence of Small Group Ministry on the larger congregation is ways the congregation itself functions. This makes it a continuous and dynamic process.
*Ministry and goals
Groups: Ways to Assess
*Track who is in groups, for how long, and whether they move to another group, if groups change or there is a need to leave a group.
*Track the ability to get people into groups. What is the relationship between the number of people wanting to be in groups and the availability of facilitators?
*Note group diversity, inclusivity, similarity between the group participants and the demographics of the congregation. Who is being included? Who is not included and what would be needed to engage people?
Groups: Assessment Considerations
*Note the group dynamics, changes within groups, groups that need additional members, ongoing attendance.
Sessions: Ways to Assess
*Check Out/Likes and Wishes. How a session went includes session content and group process. The importance of asking this for each session keeps the opportunity to comment open. Co-facilitators can evaluate on an ongoing basis.
*Monitor attendance and commitment to the group.
Session Considerations
Review how the topic went for the group, as well as group dynamics. This involves "Likes and Wishes". Are there things that need to be addressed?
*Note the variety of session plans available to and used by the group over time, including intensity, diversity. Are particular types of plans needed?
*Review how the Basic Elements of Small Group Ministry are being followed, and the leader and group understanding of Small Group Ministry.
Facilitator Selection, Development, Support
*Track how facilitators are recruited, and how long they are willing to facilitate.
*Track participation in meetings of facilitators.
*Note the content of the meetings. Is there opportunity for celebration as well as for considering problems.
Small Group Ministry Committee
*Monitor the visibility of Small Group Ministry, such as Newsletter articles, etc.
*Review how the Steering Committee connects with both the larger congregation and the Small Groups.
Small Group Ministry Committee: Consideration
*Does the Steering Committee have a sense of how Small Group Ministry is strengthening the congregation?
*Is the focus of the committee on issues and problems, or on moving Small Group Ministry forward?
*Is there a process for addressing issues?
Staffing and Support Structure
*Review the clarity of the respective roles, responsibilities and functions of the staff (minister, coordinator/director) Committee, facilitators. Are these understood and working?
*Consider the basic resources needed, for groups to meet, including financial support for trainings and literature.
Support Structure: Considerations
*Consider space options for groups to meet, including space at the church. Is Small Group Ministry a priority for space?
*Have needs been identified (space, transportation, child care, etc.) and is there a plan for addressing the needs?
Congregational Connection
*Consider the program visibility, and how well the congregation understands the program, the importance of the program to the congregation (participants and non-participants).
*Review the place of groups within the structure of the congregation. Is it a congregation with or of small ministry groups?
Attendance: Givens
Defining the current situation within your congregation
*Keep note of who is in which groups, why people join and leave groups.
*When people leave, have an exit interview that will give an idea of the reason for the change. The importance is to ask.
*Energy level -what do groups do for service?

Your congregation and larger community
*the opportunities and expectations that people will participate, and the competing activities.
* changes in leadership within the congregation and within the Small Group Ministry program itself
*Change in the interest for specific times, such as evening versus daytime, possibly related to work status (part time versus full time, retired) or younger families with children
* How does attendance trends in the groups match with the attendance trends at Sunday worship?
Attendance: Options Considerations to address attendance concerns
*Identify why people stay in groups - what holds them.
*Review the options for Groups and Sessions. Review the basis premises upon which your program is based, and consider options.
For example, if the groups are time limited, give the option of having continuing groups, and visa versa. If groups meet twice monthly, give the option of meeting once a month, and visa versa. If groups all follow the same session plans or are tied with the sermon or a shared topic, allow for selecting from the broad variety of topics available.

*If the issue is with a group, consider ending the group.

See "Attendance Fluctuations" CGN January/February 2013.

It is critical to maintain an historic reference of the process that was used at various stages of starting, revitalizing and, as needed, restarting the program development process. People involved change, and the documented historic record may show what was tried, the successes and the challenges - and the reasons for both.
See "Document Your SGM History for the Future" CGN January/February 2013

Online Resources Topics:

Back to Main page

comments powered by Disqus

Introduction and Index | Overview of Small Group Ministry | Programming: Starting, Rejuvenating and Restarting Small Group Ministry | Oversight | Group Leadership and Facilitation | Groups | Sessions | Service | Visibility for Vitality

Compiled Version | Web Map | Back to Small Group Ministry Network