So you've signed up to lead a Connect what? Below is an encouragement from our pastors and a few practical tips on caring, growing, and multiplying your group!
Dear Group Leaders,
Pam and I are so excited that you have been willing to step up to the next level of ministry and serve our church as a Connect Group leader. The bigger the church gets, the smaller we have to become. People want to be known and needed and you hold the key to both!

Connect Groups aren’t just Bible Studies. Yes, we study the Bible and grow together in our faith, but these groups offer so much more than that. They are vehicles through which people get connected, known, helped, and affirmed. They offer a chance to serve and be served. This is the Body of Christ in action at CrossWalk. As our church grows, we all need to grow. God is continually looking to stretch us, to challenge us, and call us higher. Leading a group will stretch you. You may be forced to deal with heartache, with conflict, and with disappointment. Yet in the midst of it you will find yourself being transformed into the image of Jesus. The rewards are immeasurable!

Below is a guide that offers some simple pointers in how to care for your group, how to grow your group, and how to multiply your group. Love people and the rest will come naturally! Each of you has been chosen as a leader because we know God has equipped you for this task. We are here for you. We want to help you. We want to grow with you. Welcome aboard!

Pastors Mark and Pam
1. Caring for Your Group

Be warm. Introduce them to the group. One way to do this is an icebreaker. Make sure each person in the group is introduced to the new person and that the new person is given a chance to introduce themselves. Be natural. Be open. Be real. I usually ask the new person, “Tell the group about yourself. How many kids do you have? How long have you been at CrossWalk?” 

Reach out. Send a card. Do it the same day or you’ll forget. Buy stamps and cards ahead of time. If you can’t do it, find someone else in the group willing to share responsibility. Don’t ever give someone an excuse to not come back!

Here’s an example but don't be afraid to add your own personal touch.

Dear [new person], It was so nice to meet you at our Tuesday meeting. We hope you felt welcomed and at home in our group. All of us at CrossWalk Women look forward to getting to know you better.
Blessings! - [leader]

Be inclusive. Encourage members to invite their friends . Remember people get meet Jesus in community! Co-workers and neighbors who’d never agree to come to church on Sunday are far more willing to come with you to a Bible Study in a safe, open, and welcoming environment. Pray for them, invite them, and watch God work.

Recruit for your group. You are the Welcome Team! New people are looking for Jesus. Your job is to look for them and make the most of any opportunity to introduce yourself. This should also extend to Sunday worship services. As a leader you can welcome someone into the heart of the church. Look for the woman who is sitting alone. Welcome them, sit beside them, and introduce them to your friends. 


Email. Send a message to your group every week Touch base with your group every week. Don’t forget. Make sure they have an easy mechanism to reach out to you. It need only be a simple message like this:

Dear group, I hope everyone is enjoying Redeemed! I know I've been challenged this week as I've attempted to write my testimony! Looking forward to getting together for coffee to read yours! See you at Aromas at 10:00am Tuesday morning. 
God Bless, [leader]

Visit. Reach out in person every month. We want to encourage personal contact outside the group, at least once a month. This could be a personal phone call, email, or perhaps even a personal visit. Sometimes, it is obvious if a person in our group is struggling. This is when we want to say, “I'd love to connect with you outside the group. Would you like to go to lunch?” 

Build community. Do something together once a month, but remember not to schedule them at the same time as church services and events. It can be something simple like going to coffee together or seeing a movie or even having a potluck together. Be creative!!

Give Feedback. Fill in your Monthly Ministry Report. This is how we help you and hold you accountable. It also helps you keep yourself on track as you minister to the needs of the group. This should be filled out and turned in at the end of every month. It is vital you do it!

Be Teachable. Attend Heart & Soul Leadership Nights. These take place once a month on Thursday evenings at 7pm. This is a chance for Pastor Mark and the rest of the CrossWalk team to invest in you, encourage you, and fill you in on the direction and vision of the church. These meetings are not optional. If for some reason you cannot make it, please communicate with your Campus Pastor.
2. Growing Your Group

Evaluate. Help them grow spiritually one step at a time. You don’t need to be a Bible expert, just model what you’ve learned, and trust the Holy Spirit to use you even in your weakness. Every person is on a journey and asking "what's next?" in their life. Seek to encourage each person to take a deeper step in his or her faith walk.

For instance: 
• Salvation – Don't assume people in church are saved 
• Water Baptism - In a culture of nominal Christianity, water baptism is often the point of decision/commitment to Christ. Particularly true with those coming from Catholic/Mainline Church background. Don't be afraid to encourage individuals to take this step! 
• Prayer – Many in your group may have never prayed out loud. Encourage them. Make it a safe place for them to learn how to pray. Don't model it in a complicated way, make it simple: 'Jesus help. Amen!' Encourage them to ask God to meet their needs, watch Him work, and then celebrate the answers! 
• Spirit Baptism – Teach your group that God has made provision for them to live a transformed Christian life through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Be bold in praying for them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Give room for the expression of spiritual gifts as outlined in 1 Cor. 12 – and be prepared to disciple them as they grow in their gifts. 
• GrowthWalk – Encourage every person in your group to go through CrossWalk's GrowthWalk. This is the way our church works to disciple people, develop Christian character, and decipher how people can use their gifts to make a difference in the local church. This is a great tool to help them learn more about our church and how they can get even more connected. 
• Volunteering on a Team – Someone's next step might mean volunteering on a specific team at church. Encourage them to use their passion and personality to serve. They will grow in faith and develop their skills as a result! This is a great opportunity for people to get a front row seat to what Jesus is doing at CrossWalk. 
Don’t go it alone. Just as you need to come alongside those in your group facing struggles and problems, organizing meals, or reaching out to offer friendship so you need to make sure you reach out when you are struggling. Always bring difficult situations (e.g. infidelity, addictions, abuse, divorce, etc.) to the attention of your immediate leaders so they can provide the appropriate help.
3. Multiplying Your Group

Identify an Apprentice. Healthy leaders raise up leaders. Every group needs an apprentice leader -- someone who is being raised up and trained to lead. How do you identify one? 
• They care for other group members 
• They are maturing in their own faith 
• They have a good grasp of Bible basics 
• They are dependable and trustworthy
Once you identify someone who you think would fit this description, talk to your Campus Pastor first. There may be things in their life that you aren't aware of. You Campus Pastor will then approach them about becoming a leader. 

 Invest in your Apprentice. Once you have an apprentice in place they can share some of the responsibilities of leading the group, contacting new members, following up with practical needs (meals etc). Make it a priority to invest in your apprentice, take time to meet with them, and disciple them. 

Release your Apprentice. Eventually, as your group grows and needs to multiply you are going to have to let your apprentice go. This can be hard. You’ve invested in them and it can be hard to start the process again. But the goal would be for them to take half the members of your group and form a new group, freeing you up to identify another apprentice from within the members that remain.
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