If you’re a church planter, you know how difficult training small group leaders can be. Getting everyone together is nearly impossible, not to mention how busy your schedule is. If you need to help your leaders know how to plan a meeting in a matter of minutes, there is a way.

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend small group leader training. That’s right. Even though I train small group leaders myself I still attend the training others are doing. I learn an immense amount of information and add new tools to my own small group leader tool box every time I do.

 This weekend I learned from one of the best, Russ Robinson. I had seen Russ from a distance as I had attended Willow Creek Association small group conferences for years but had never had a chance to get up close and personal with him. I am indebted to First Baptist Church, Weston Florida and the Florida Baptist Convention for making that possible. Friday night before Saturday’s training event a cluster of people the size of a small group gathered around a table for dinner. For over two hours Russ answered questions. The questions ranged from handling awkward small group meeting moments to how to, with wisdom and sensitivity to the church a pastor leads, move your church toward change. Having been a small group leader, a small group pastor, an elder, a senior pastor, and presently a layman (Russ is a successful attorney) giving his life to his local church, Willow Creek Community Church, he has perspectives and understandings few will ever acquire. Not only is he one of the most diverse church leaders in the training world today, Russ is also an author having co-authored three small group books, Building a Church of Small Groups: Place Where No One Stands Alone,  Walking the Small Group Tightrope: Meeting the Challenges Every Group Faces, and The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry: A Troubleshooting Guide for Church Leaders. All three of these outstanding books were co-authored with Bill Donahue. Russ loves small groups (Watch the video and hear him tell why he loves them so much.)!

 Russ has one of the most concise and effective ways to plan a meeting of anyone I’ve seen. He suggests that, when planning your meeting, you focus on goals over content. In order to do so, when preparing for the meeting, simply answer four questions, each related to a different aspect of the human experience, Head, Heart, Hands, Homework.  After answering these four questions determine what you will do to accomplish what has been determined.

During the training event, Russ gave us time to answer these questions. We chose a passage of scripture and were asked to prepare for a small group meeting. In three minutes almost everyone in the room had created a small group meeting that would be transforming. That’s right, in three minutes you could create the best meeting you’ve ever had by answering four simple questions. What are these four amazing questions? Here you go…

 Head: What do I want my group to know?  

Heart: What do I want my group to feel?

Hands: What do I want my group to do?

Homework: What do I want my group to plan?

 Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!

P.S. If you’re a church planter and want to find out how to do small groups effectively and also hear from some of the most highly renowned church planters and small groups leaders in the country, come join us at Exponential, April 20 – 23, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.