Small Group Goals: What Are They & Do I Need Them?
Do I need monthly Small Group goals as the group leader? It’s a question I’ve wondered many times over the years. Usually, it comes with a slight hesitation on the back end. After all, it can feel hard enough to just make sure the group meets together!
At the same time, setting goals can be a simple way to make leading more intentional. So, what are four steps to consider when setting goals that will start to make your group better?
What’s the Purpose of Small Group Goals?
Why have Small Group goals? Well, if no one has a vision for where your group is heading, then any circumstance can pull it off course—even the exciting or “good” circumstances. For example, your group could end up:
- Spending most of your time socializing at the expense of talking about the Bible—because you have lots of social butterflies in the group
- Not praying for each other during the week—because no one took initiative to create this culture
- Missing painful moments in people’s lives—because the over-talkers don’t leave room for others to share
You are the leader; you must own what’s happening in your group. But you also must own its future: where is the group heading? This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be. But if you don’t figure out “What’s next?” no one else will.
New Small Group Goals Each Month?
Let’s say you don’t have monthly Small Group goals. As a leader, you love the men and women in your group. You are trying to pray for them. You do your best to show up prepared to lead discussions. If all that is the case (and I believe it is), why haven’t you thought about where you want to see the group go this month or in the next half year?
As we talked about above, if there’s no vision for the group’s direction, any circumstance can pull the Small Group off course. However, your love for your group members combined with a monthly goal will help you incrementally measure the wellbeing of your Small Group. In other words: monthly Small Group goals will help you gauge if that care, prayer, discussion, and leadership is effective.
Good news: if you don’t yet have monthly goals spelled out, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any. Perhaps you haven’t paused to realize that you may indeed have goals; you just haven’t acknowledged them!
What do your internal goals sound like?
- “Gosh, I wish that Josh would speak up more in discussions.”
- “What if we tried shortening our dinner time so we could have more discussion time?”
- “I think the women should get together soon to rally around Phyllis.”
See, you do have goals for your group—including goals for yourself and for the individual people in your group. You just haven’t stopped to spit them out yet. That’s what we’ll cover next.
How to Formulate Small Group Goals
One way to pull out your goals that are in your head is to be asked about them.
Your Coach is the perfect candidate to ask you about these. As you discuss this with your Coach, he might ask, “Dave, what goal do you have for your group right now? Or what problem would you like to see solved?” These are perfect coaching questions!
You don’t need to wait for the next meeting with your coach to start thinking through your goals, though. How? Try having a friend (spouse, co-leader, etc.) ask you. Or ask yourself!
Take a moment right now, and ask yourself the question, “What is one thing that I’d like to see be different in my group over the next month?” I’ll bet something will come to mind. A few examples are:
- An idea of how to support a couple going through a trial
- A desire to reach out to someone who hasn’t come to the group in a while
- A personal resolve to spend more time prepping for the upcoming gathering
Guess what? That’s a goal. You did it!
This Month’s Small Group Goal: Keep it Simple
You probably don’t need to craft a thirty-two-page handout for the next group discussion. And you probably don’t need to read twenty articles on conflict resolution before you reach out to a person in the group with whom you’re having tension.
Keep your goal simple this month. One such goal would be: “I’d like to prep for at least thirty minutes for our next Small Group gathering discussion.” It’s clear, simple, and you will easily be able to know if you did it or not.
4 Steps for Goal Setting
Now that we’ve talked about why Small Group goals are important and how to think through them, let’s get super practical. Here are the four steps you can take to help yourself and your group get in the rhythm of having monthly goals.
1. Think: Think about what goals you want to see achieved or problems you want to resolve in the group (or in yourself as you lead). A conversation (with a coach, spouse, co-leader, friend) might be the most conducive to accomplishing this step.
2. Pray: Ask the Lord to direct you to the most important goal for now (Prov. 3:5-6).
3. Get Accountable: After you get a goal in mind, solidify this goal by:
• Writing down the Small Group goal
• Sharing the goal with someone who can keep you accountable (like your Coach!)
• Taking immediate action on it
That way, you know it’ll get done.
4. DO IT: Act on your goal—and see what changes in the group! This is a great opportunity to circle back with your Coach or write down how God worked through that situation. After all, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). When we see God work—including through our goals—we should praise him for it.
Assistant Pastor of Small Groups & Membership
Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends