Thank you for serving as a Spark Group leader! Before and at your first meeting...
>>> Contact everyone individually.
Introduce yourself and let the women know when and where the group meets as well as the book we’ll be studying, The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith.
>>> Contact everyone collectively.
Send a group text or email highlighting all the details of your group and letting them know how excited you are to get started!
>>> Serve refreshments
Or coordinate for someone else in the group to bring refreshments. Food brings people together and makes gatherings more fun. Create a signup sheet and send it around during your first meeting to get the food for the rest of the weeks covered. You’re already leading and/or hosting, and bringing food is a great way to spread around a feeling of ownership to the women in your group.
>>> Pray for everyone on your roster and for your time together this week.
We read this statement together before every group discussion. It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
>>> LEADER TIP: OPEN IN PRAYER
Especially this first week, starting our groups in prayer will be a great move! It allows us to sit down, take a deep breath and focus our hearts and minds on God. Invite Him into your time together. Ask Him to speak and move in your group today and over the next two months as you meet together.
>>> LEADER TIP: RELATIONSHIPS ARE YOUR PRIORITY
The first gathering is all about getting relational momentum and building (or re-building) trust and openness. This happens when you spend intentional time catching up, getting to know each other's stories, and asking each other questions. You should spend a good chunk of time on this!
- Let's have everybody share what their comfortable sharing! Tell us about yourself, your family, how you came to Mission, your occupation and hobbies, anything!
- Tell us about your break since the last session (if you've met before), what was the highlight? What was unexpected?
This book is called The Good and Beautiful God because the focus is on the character of God and how we move into a life of intimacy with Him. The book will help us learn how to live like Jesus in our ordinary, everyday lives: in our families, at work and in our spheres of influence. It all starts with knowing the God Jesus knows and loving Him.
At the end of each chapter we’ll be engaging in spiritual practices that reinforce the biblical messages on our minds and hearts. Community is the perfect place to practice these “soul training” exercises together. We’ll be learning to live as as Jesus taught us to live and we’ll get to practice what we’re learning together.
- Thinking quickly, what are some of the first words come to mind when you think about what God is like?
- What are the main voices in your life influencing your thoughts about God? Are they all saying different or similar things?
- Describe your own experience with trying (and perhaps failing) to change things about yourself or your life. What do you think was the main reason for failure or lack of results?
- What do you hope to get out of this book, and our time together?
>>> Leader Tip: Set the Right Bar for your group
Homework is always tricky, and it's not a problem to solve; we can't simply take it all away, or "require" it from everyone. Since it's not a problem to solve, it means it's a "tension to manage". Some people in your group need to know that if they don't read, do the soul training, or prepare at all... they are still encouraged to come. Others in your group need to be pushed and encouraged to take the intentional step and commitment to DO it, pushing other things aside and making it a priority.
The thing is, YOU have the best idea of where people are at in your group. Reaffirm for everyone that while the homework is strongly encouraged, the most important thing is showing up - no matter what!
- Introduction: "How to Get the Most Out of This Book"
- Chapter 1: "What are You Seeking?"
Soul Training: SLEEP
- "The number one enemy of Christian spiritual formation today is exhaustion."
- Pages 33-36
- As the section "How to Get the Most Out of This Book" suggests, find a journal or notebook to answer the questions posed throughout each chapter and for the reflections on the soul-training experience found at the end of each chapter.
- In your journal, answer the questions posed on pages 20, 25, 27 and 30. Do the weekly exercise on page 35: “At least one day this week sleep until you cannot sleep any more or aim to get at least seven hours of sleep at least three times this week.”
- Reflect on your experience: Journal about your answers to the questions on page 36.
- Bring your journal to next week’s gathering. James Bryan Smith writes, “Come to group time prepared to listen and share. If everyone takes time to journal in advance, the conversation in the group time will be much more effective. People will be sharing from their distilled thoughts, and the group time will be more valuable.”
Ask everyone how you can be praying for each other throughout the week. Make sure to write them down and send them to the group so everyone can be praying throughout the week.
Close in prayer or ask someone else to pray!