Destination Small Groups FAQ
What are Small Groups?
Small Groups are a weekly gathering of 10-15 people who focus on building communities that are loyal to Jesus. Small Groups are one of the best places to meet people, make connections, and grow spiritually. Each Small Group has a specific description to help define and clarify its particular purpose and approach. We have a variety of groups: Bible studies, topical studies, sermon discussion/application, DVD curriculum, and Missional Groups. All groups incorporate social justice, prayer and discipleship. Because Small Groups are built around our vision, they really are the heartbeat of the church. It’s our desire that everyone who attends Destination participates in a Small Group each semester.
Who are Small Groups for?
Small Groups are highly accessible and anyone can sign up for one. If you can read this, and you live in Chicago, then Small Groups are available for you. Our goal is for people at all stages to experience a sense of community and transformation. We desire for all Small Group participants to genuinely seek involvement at Destination, no matter their previous level of commitment to Jesus or the church. We aim to provide free childcare if sitters are available and parents are encouraged to include their kids in their Small Group as much as possible. Whether you are a believer or not, or you don’t know where you stand spiritually, there will always be a welcoming place in one of our groups.
Why are Small Groups so important?
Learning to follow Jesus in all things is the goal of Christian life. This spiritual maturity cannot come about in isolation. Only through real life interaction with people do we find a context for character growth and a chance to give and receive. To grow in patient, compassion, generosity, serving, and many other desirable traits, we must be in an environment that requires them. If we only attend church gatherings on the weekend we are missing a huge part of what it means to be God’s people. We are also missing the greatest opportunity for personal growth. Small Groups are the best context to make a difference in other peoples lives. Jesus started a Small Group of twelve disciples who ended up changing the world. Small Groups can have a big impact! Plus, the Bible also warns us against “neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:25 ESV). God thinks it’s important.
What should I expect to happen at my first Small Group?
At the start there is usually a meet and greet time. Since the group is new, the leader will take time for people to introduce themselves. This is very informal and pretty fun, and the leader will facilitate this to make it comfortable for everyone. There may be some light refreshments. The leader may ask a few questions relating to the focus of the group in order to give a taste of what the group will be like. The leader will then pray and go through the semester schedule, making sure that everyone understands what is planned for each week. At this point, people can ask clarifying questions. Each semester includes planned curriculum/focus, prayer gatherings, social events, and social justice projects. Next, the Small Group leader will take the group through an orientation sheet which explains how to participate in the group. This orientation is extremely beneficial as it creates a common expectation among all group members and calls each one into active involvement. Again, clarifying questions are welcomed. As part of the orientation, each person can write down a prayer request and select various ways to get involved with the Small Group and the church in general. After the leader collects in the orientation sheets, the group may then divide into two’s or three’s and pray for each other and close with more time to connect and interact. The first week is designed to be lighter and to take care of setting the right expectations for the rest of the semester.
What is the format of a Small Group?
Groups meet weekly. Many meet in the evening, but some meet in the mornings also. Because there are a variety of groups, it’s best to check the sign up options each semester. Not all groups are the same. Some are purely Bible studies, others go through book studies, while others seek to review, discuss and apply the weekend sermon. After the orientation on week one (see above), each subsequent week of a regular group follows a format similar to this: 1) Meet and greet. 2) Prayer requests. 3) Review curriculum/focus. 4) Discussion. 5) Prayer in groups. Some groups incorporate dinner beforehand.
How does child care work for Small Groups?
At Destination Church we desire for all our parents to participate in Small Groups. It is our goal to reimburse parents for child care so that parents can participate in Small Groups. If a family is looking for sitters, we attempt to find home-sitters where children can keep their normal schedules and parents are free to attend a group elsewhere. We do ask parents to consider hosting a group and explore alternative options before requesting child care. This helps us wisely and effectively allocate sitters to those with the greatest need. Parents are reimbursed for up to four hours per Small Group session. If that is not possible, and with parents’ permission, children may be watched as a group at the same or another location for the same time period. Parents are asked to respect this timeframe. Parents pay the sitter, and then are reimbursed by Destination Church. We would simply ask that parents continue to be financially generous to the ministry of the church.
Am I expected to bring anything to Small Group?
If you join a group with a particular curriculum, unless otherwise directed, you are expected to purchase the curriculum and bring it with you each week. Having a pen to write down important things you are learning may also benefit you. If you desire to bring a Bible, please do. If you don’t own a Bible, you can pick up a free one on Sunday mornings from the Resource Table. You may also want to bring a snack and/or some type of beverage to Small Group as a way to bless others and contribute to the social dynamic of the group. You may want to check with your Small Group leader first to see what will be most suitable.
Can I invite people to Small Group who don’t go to Destination?
Yes! You can invite anyone to join a Small Group. The best time is at the start of the semester so that everyone starts on the same page. Be sure to set a clear expectation of what being involved in a Small Group looks like. Sometimes that means waiting for a couple of months before the next semester starts. We simply ask that instead of just bringing someone along to group one week, you ask them to officially sign up online, or during the weekend gathering. This helps create ownership for them, it helps us effectively follow up, as well as assisting the leader to properly incorporate them into the group.
How do I join a Small Group?
There are two ways to sign up. You can sign up online at any time. Simply go to DestinationChurch.org/groups. You can also sign up on your communication card at the weekend gathering by 1) Identifying the best group for you from the groups insert. Taking into consideration location, day of week, and the groups focus. 2) Writing the group code (EX: SUN01) in the “Join Small Group _______” section on the back of your communication card. 3) Fully completing your communication card and turning it in with the offering envelopes at the end of the meeting. 4) You’ll then be contacted by your Small Group leader with the address of the group and any other important information.
How do I host a Small Group?
We’d encourage you to participate in a Small Group before you host one. During the groups orientation on week one of the semester, there is an opportunity to indicate your desire to host a Small Group for the next semester. To effectively host a Small Group, it’s important to have a well-kept environment that people will feel comfortable in. We are also looking for hosts to be people who consider Destination to be their church.
What are the qualifications for leading a Small Group?
Small Group leaders need to have a heart for others and a desire to disciple them. It’s vital that leaders are humble, open to direction, and flexible. They must also be living a life that represents Jesus well. We usually reserve Small Group leadership for church members. They need to practice integrity, have an ability to influence others, and provide a healthy balance of support and challenge.
Can I be excused from Small Group this semester if I’m involved in another area?
Small Groups are the backbone of our church and nothing else within the church should compete for participation in a group. Sometimes other commitments, whether inside or outside the church, can feel overwhelming or difficult to balance. But, because God’s kingdom is our first priority, we must each purposefully elevate Jesus and His people. This means rearranging our lives to bring focus to the Biblical value of community and discipleship. Small Group participation is a healthy expectation for each church member. It’s our desire for all who attend Destination to be active in a Small Group each semester. There is simply no other way to do the Christian life. For unique circumstances we encourage you to speak to a leader.
Can I switch Small Groups?
Switching groups can happen during the sign-up period. Please make certain that the location, day, time, and focus/curriculum is suitable for you. If groups haven’t started yet, and you desire to switch, simply sign up for the group you desire to switch to. Once you have attended the first group meeting, it is important that you remain committed to the group for the rest of the semester. Because our groups run on semesters, you will be free to join any group after the semester ends. This allows you to fulfill your initial commitment, but it also allows you to switch to something better in a few months.
What are some valid reasons for not joining a Small Group?
There are only a few valid reasons to not join a Small Group. Most practical reasons that people give are actually because they just don’t want to. The most understandable reasons are 1) Being out of town during the week for work (but, because we offer Small Groups before church on Sunday, this excuse is not entirely valid). 2) Being sick enough to be in bed or in the hospital. Either way, someone is not well enough to go out and be around others. 3) Having multiple demands on your time. Having more than one job, being in school, and/or being responsible for someone else. Again, this is very understandable, and we understand that it’s not possible to be in a Small Group if all your evenings are taken up. Please let us know if there is a Small Group day and time that will work for you, and we will see if we can start one at that time next semester.
How can I make Small Groups a priority?
For Small Groups to be a priority it’s important to make some decisions. It’s firstly important to chose to stop making invalid excuses. Fearing others, feeling busy, lacking Bible knowledge, kids, sickness, and travel are all reasons with workarounds. If something is important, we can usually find a way to do it. Christian community is very important to Jesus. Can you talk to your boss and make an adjustment on one of your work days? Can you adjust the day you travel back home? How can you simplify your life? What can you give up? How can you practically make your group a priority? Make a list of all the things competing for your time and write down as many things as possible to eliminate them or reduce their impact. Prioritize.