Shel I did small group ministry one of the things I emphasized was setting some expectations early – in the first few meetings of a new group or a new season. What invariably happens if you do not, is that you need to enforce boundaries later that should have been made clear at the beginning. Common boundary violations include:
1-Hosts being walked on or their “house rules” ignored by a group member or their kids
2-People not coming ready to jump into learning and discussion
3-Oversharing or dominating discussion
4-Staying way too long (particularly important boundary if the group is in a home) all the time
and the list goes on. These things have killed several groups I’ve known of over the last 15 years of ministry.
We are transitioning to more home-group based ministry at Mercy Church for several reasons. If you are interested or need support contact pastor Nate (firstname.lastname@example.org) he’d love to help you out.
Here is one great covenant to use: (Small Group Bible Study Covenant)
Small Group/Home Group Covenant
Group Leader _________________________________ Phone # __________________________
Group Co-leader _______________________________ Phone # _________________________
Our Group exists to bring each member to spiritual maturity through
Scripture: Each member will grow in knowledge and application of the Word of God.
Worship: Each member and the group will bring joy to God through praise, thanksgiving, and prayer.
Relationships: Each member will develop deep and lasting personal relationships in an atmosphere of acceptance and accountability.
Ministry: Each member will use his or her spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ.
To accomplish these goals, we mutually expect from one another:
1) We will meet together <every week> on <day of week>.
2) Our commitment to this group will last from <begin date> to <end date>.
3) Our meetings will begin promptly at <begin time> and close no later than <end time>.
4) We agree to be faithful in attendance and to call <name of leader or co-leader> if we cannot attend.
1) We will study <name of study or book> and will complete the study guides to the best of our ability.
2) We agree to participate in the discussions to share what we have learned in our study and to gain from the insights of others.
3) During the meetings, the study portion will last approximately <how long>.
1) The primary way(s) our group will express worship to God is <name one or more ways>.
2) We agree that our worship time will last approximately <how long>.
1) The primary purpose of our group is <identify>.
2) We will seek to take part in ministry as a group through <name service project, other>.
3) We will develop, encourage, and use our spiritual gifts within the group by <insert ways> and outside the group by <insert ways>
Community, Transparency, and Accountability
1) Is our group open to having new members join? Yes __ No __ If yes, this decision will be made by <person or process>.
2) The primary ways our group will seek to build openness and accountability are: <insert ways>.
3) The amount of time given for sharing or disclosure at each meeting will be approximately <how long>.
4) Refreshments be handled by <define>.
5) We will have time for informal conversation before the meeting for <how long> or after meeting for <how long>?
1) The amount of time devoted to prayer within the group will be approximately <how long>.
2) Prayer in the group setting <will/will not> be limited to specific needs. If so, <define >.
1) Children over the age of <specify> <will/will> not attend the meetings.
2) How will childcare be handled? <specify>
3) At the end of our group commitment, we will complete an evaluation. <Yes/No>.
We agree together to honor this group covenant.
Taken from Why Didn’t You Warn Me? Dealing With the Challenging People in Your Small Group, Standard Publishing, March 2007. Permission granted to reproduce for personal use.