Most churches have small groups of some kind. They can be called missional communities, fellowship groups, community groups, etc. These groups are most often essential to the life of the church. They are where people gather to be known, prayed for, challenged, and loved. I believe every church larger than a single house church should have some form of small groups. Yet, that doesn’t preclude also offering a different type of group: the support group, or, as I prefer to call them, process groups.
Why process groups?
Sometimes people are in a season of life where they have a significant challenge or a big transition: a new parents’ group, a divorce recovery group, a grief group, an adoption group. Process groups—are not as holistic as the more general small groups, but are focused on a particular issue at a particular point in time that people need help and support in.
Big transitions can be challenging to walk through in the course of a traditional small group if it feels no one really understands. For instance, a person engaging the grief process may find it difficult to feel fully supported in a regular small group where no one else is experiencing the same thing. A small group can certainly be supportive, praying and providing practical help. But the role of that group is not to derail everything else they’re doing to become a grief support group. During some seasons, people need something different from—or additional to—a small group. A side-step where they can be surrounded by people who are walking through similar circumstances. Engaging with such a group helps them process through a transitional season. It is a healthy and often transformative detour in their journey as a disciple of Christ.Why a process group? Big transitions can be challenging to walk through in the course of a traditional small group if it feels no one really understands. Click To Tweet
Important elements of a process group
- Focus on a particular area where people need to grow.
- Geared toward a specific season of life, not forever.
- Rooted in shared experience with others who understand.
- Supplemental to the broader ministries of the church, not in place of them.
Process groups can address:
- Living with Less Anxiety, Fear, and Worry
- Managing Anger
- Choosing to Forgive
- Processing Abuse (sexual, verbal, physical)
- Battling Addiction
- Facing guilt or shame
- Living with Depression
- Creating Healthy Boundaries
- Walking through Grief
- Recovering From Losses in Life (other than death)
- Finding Meaning and Setting Priorities
- Getting Out of Your Own Way
- Navigating Career Transitions
- Addressing Parenting Challenges
- Ending Well
Appropriate support groups foster healthy transformation
Healing and change lie in people’s understanding and embracing of certain basic developmental tasks—tasks not everyone has completed while growing up. Many people who participate in process groups see improvement in their day-to-day functioning as they begin, with God’s help, to perform tasks that involve growing up and into the likeness of the one who created them. These kinds of groups help highlight those critical incidents and circumstances in life that God so often uses to shape our character and purpose. Well-done process groups draw on a biblical understanding of faith and human nature to get the most out of life and build lasting, loving relationships.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (KJV)Well-done process groups draw on a biblical understanding of faith and human nature to get the most out of life and build lasting, loving relationships. Click To Tweet
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