How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact with Jason Sniff

Modern Church Leader feat. Jason Sniff
How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact feat. Jason Sniff on Modern Church Leader

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Listen on your favorite podcast app:

How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact

Having a small-group ministry is one of the most effective ways to reach out to a community.

If you can maximize your small groups and use them more successfully, it can significantly impact the church’s overall direction.

So what can a church leader do to maximize the potential of their small groups?

With the correct tools and understanding, church leaders may play an essential role in laying the groundwork for small groups. This means ensuring that everyone in the church understands the importance of small groups, their value to the church, and the need to invest in small groups. 

Most people think that small groups are for Bible studies, prayer, and other spiritual activities. While that is true to a large extent, small groups are also where people learn and grow together. It is a place where people can build authentic relationships, share their lives, struggles, and victories. 

The goal for small groups is to expand each person’s potential in the body of Christ. The church can achieve this goal by establishing a culture of small groups, training and equipping small group leaders, and providing regular relationship-building opportunities. 

The New Testament speaks a lot about small groups. They are the backbone of almost everything we do in the body of Christ. Jesus used small groups to teach, build relationships, and minister. In fact, one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of small groups is to look at the ministry of Jesus. 

If you're ready to take your small group ministry to the next level, then here is your chance to find out how with our guest this episode. Jason Sniff, Small Group Pastor of New Creation Church, will share strategies to help you grow your church community and reach more people through small groups. Having written and co-authored small group resources and studies, Jason understands firsthand the plight of every pastor and church leader when it’s time to revamp their small groups.

We can get people together, we can gather them, and they might even grow. But we missed the Great Commission, which is to go and take what we're learning with us wherever we go.
-Jason Sniff 

Jason A. Sniff is the Pastor of Small Groups at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. He has spent over a decade in ministry, mostly building leaders and equipping leaders to influence the world. Prior to entering the ministry, Jason worked in higher education for 13 years, counseling, discipling, teaching, and training college students.

If you want to get the most out of your small group, then this is an episode you don't want to miss! 

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • Ideas to help you maximize small groups in ministry
  • How to leverage small groups to make your church more effective
  • The ways to find, lead and equip small group leaders
  • The role of small groups in evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development
  • The essential qualities of a good small group leader 
  • How to engage every person in a small group and get them connected

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[05:51] What we found is that for a number of churches, if you have a DNA core culture of groups, it helps to stay in churches through the times in which you couldn't gather corporately.

[06:57]  Every group not only needs to have a defined purpose but it's got to be external, outside of themselves.

[07:10] We can get people together, we can gather them, and they might even grow. But we missed the Great Commission, which is to go and take what we're learning with us wherever we go.

[11:10] I think that good leaders help others. They show others that it's easier than you think it is. We call it a catalytic leader. And so that's somebody that doesn't just come in and do everything, but they allow for space for others to jump up in do a little bit more. 

[17:21] I like to say the Holy Spirit kind of sets the stage for us. Before we knew anything about COVID,  we did some training a couple of years before that, trying to bolster our groups to think of themselves as many churches. I would kind of use that language like, what if we could not gather corporately on a Sunday? How would we continue to spur one another?

[22:18] One more leader tip that I think works, regardless of a pandemic, is that you can mobilize those within your group that I like to call gatherers—people who naturally connect or somebody who just loves to reach out. 

[24:29] The research indicated that smaller small groups or bigger small groups created the optimal opportunity for growth. So smaller, meaning less than seven, and bigger, meaning 16 or more, because if you get that big, you actually have to subgroup in some capacity anyway. So, it might even just be safer to say smaller small groups.

podcast transcript

(Scroll for more)

Jason Sniff (00:00):
The research really just pushed that to the surface. We can get people together, we can gather them, and they might even grow, but we miss the great commission, which is to go. If your small group can say, "Hey, we exist because we want our families to grow, we want to disciple our families, but we also want to impact the families in our neighborhood," that has that external push. And as you do that, then that internally it helps your group grow actually two to three times more.

Narrator (00:35):
Welcome to the Modern Church Leader, where you'll hear executive pastors share practical tactics and strategy that churches are using right now to thrive in our digital world and advance the Kingdom of God. Here's your host, Frank Barry.

Frank Barry (00:48):
Hey guys, Frank here with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Excited today to talk to Jason, who heads up small groups at a pretty awesome church. And I'm particularly excited to talk to you just because I feel like the pandemic and all the crazy has affected church life just in general, but I've even felt in my own small group, and our church's small groups, so you're the first guest I've had on that really focuses on the small group ministry, and I can't wait to dig into it. So Jason Sniff, glad to have you.

Jason Sniff (01:21):
Yeah, Frank, thanks so much. It's an honor. And maybe a little bit of pressure if I'm the first one, so we'll see how it goes.

Frank Barry (01:28):
There's always a first, right?

Jason Sniff (01:29):
Right. I'm excited for it. Thanks for having me.

Frank Barry (01:34):
I love to just start out by giving you the floor for a little bit and tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into ministry. I know you're a basketball coach, which we have that in... Well, I'm not a coach, but the love of basketball in common. But yeah, just how you got into ministry and how you got into small groups. And I know you even wrote a book on small groups, so give us a story.

Jason Sniff (01:54):
Yeah, you bet. I'll get to that in a second. It seems like this ministry thing's been a journey. So, I got about 12 or 13 years working with college students in university settings and both from a student life standpoint, but then also a counseling, that's my education, is counseling, as a licensed counselor. And so I really just like the development and see how people go from one place to another, from here to there, whatever language you want to use. I'm just always been intrigued by that just because of my own journey, and then also just seeing what God does in other people.
And so in the midst of that, my wife has a youth ministry degree so I always like to say she's actually the one that's the real pastor, because counseling doesn't always count that way.
Anyway, long story short, we volunteered at our church, Eastview Christian Church, which is where I've been on staff for just over 11 years now. [crosstalk 00:02:46]. Sorry, what was that?

Frank Barry (02:48):
Where are you guys located?

Jason Sniff (02:49):
Eastview Christian Church. This is funny. We're in Normal, Illinois.

Frank Barry (02:52):
There you go. Normal, Illinois.

Jason Sniff (02:55):
Right. There is such a place. I would like to quickly say that we, as in my family, don't claim to be normal. We are just on the edge of that.

Frank Barry (03:03):
Well, I mean, you got the Duck Dynasty beard going on, and the bald head and everything, so I feel like there's a Harley somewhere.

Jason Sniff (03:10):
That would be great. We did have a 12 passenger van, now we're into the minivans, and hopefully getting into the Harley soon. That would be great.

Frank Barry (03:10):
Let's go.

Jason Sniff (03:18):
Yeah, right. I'm on that. Anyway, I backed into ministry, just helped out and volunteered, particularly in our youth area, and then they asked me to start training adults because that's what I did in a university setting. And then got a call from our youth minister that just said, "Hey, we have a opening for small groups here at Eastview, and I told the small groups pastor that you're probably the guy and so you need to call him on Monday." This was a Friday. And so I was like, "Okay, got nothing to lose here."
I've always thought that we'd end up doing something like this, and then the guys got some cool things going and 11 years later here we are. And now I've moved up into the pastors of small groups for our church. And really we're three areas, we're involvement, we're member care, and we're small groups, and so we tackle all things adults and have a blast and a lot of challenges along the way, so that's fun.
In the midst of that, a long time friend that I've known for about 15 years, Ryan Hartwig, he wrote a book called Teams That Thrive a while back with Warren Bird, and through IVP. And that's a really good thing. It's about leadership, teams, and what really helps them thrive. And so he was like, "Hey, let's try one with small groups." And so he, myself, and then our colleague, Courtney, did some research for about a year, year and a half, about 100 different churches across the country that had small groups, and we just said, "Give us your best ones," and we spent some time interviewing their leaders, but then also their small group members. And so that's an area that didn't have much information on.
We just took all that, pieced it together, it's not a here's what we do at Eastview that works for you, it's a, here's what research says and some trends and here's some shifts. And so there's some cool stuff that's in there, and maybe we'll get into that today. Maybe we won't.

Frank Barry (05:07):
I feel like you're going to have to write volume two, in about 12 more months maybe, and it'll be all on small groups after a pandemic and has anything changed, maybe not in the core fundamental of what makes a great small group leader, but some ways that they're happening might have shifted.

Jason Sniff (05:26):
Well, case in point, Frank, this book got launched in August of 2020, so we're still in the heart of-

Frank Barry (05:32):
Oh, really? So it's pretty new.

Jason Sniff (05:35):
It is new, but just some of the things in there are based off of meeting in person. But a lot of the information, I think, transcends whether you're in person or whether you're online, and so there's still some good stuff in the midst of that. But we're like, okay, how do we promote this thing when churches may or may not even be meeting?
But what we found, this is super interesting, what we found is that for a number of churches, if you had a core DNA, core culture of groups, it really helps to stay in churches through the times in which you couldn't gather corporately along the way.

Frank Barry (06:10):
So the title of the book is Leading Small Groups That Thrive or Small Groups That Thrive?

Jason Sniff (06:14):
Leading Small Groups That Thrive, yeah.

Frank Barry (06:16):
Leading Small... Okay. Everyone should check it out. I mean, I'm already interested. I mean, let's start there, because I think it's interesting. I mean, it's pretty new, so what we're, I don't know, in your mind, what are some of the highlights from just the research you did and the interviews you did with members and leaders? If you could give someone the cliff notes, what would be a few those highlights?

Jason Sniff (06:39):
It definitely won't give away the whole book, but I'll just say what was really impactful for me and for what we are trying to do here at Eastview, because again, it really impacted our own ministry along the way too, and it was some of these things are pretty... When you hear them, you're like, well, yeah, that makes sense, but to implement them is another thing. So one of those is that every group not only needs to have a defined purpose, but it's got to be external outside of themselves. And some ministries really handle this really well from a cultural spot, but a lot of folks are like, "Okay, we can get people together. We can gather them. They might even grow." But we miss the great commission, which is to go and take what we're learning with us wherever we go, as we go. And so the research really just pushed that to the surface.
Frank, if your small group can say, "Hey, we exist because we want our families to grow, we want to disciple our families, but we also want to impact the families in our neighborhood, or we want impact the families at Grove Elementary," whatever the closest school is to you guys, that has that external push, and as you do that, then internally it helps your group grow actually two to three times more over the long haul. And so you actually, as you focus outward, you grow inward. And again, that's not rocket science, but to get that into action is something that helps, it can be a shift in focus along the way.

Frank Barry (08:12):
Just maybe a question or two on each of these as you throw them out. How were groups doing that? Or what did you hear as you were talking to folks about how they practically make that just real in their groups' day to day lives?

Jason Sniff (08:28):
That's a great question. And I personally think there's a lot of creativity that comes with this. Certainly it's got to have intentionality and genuineness, but so some ministries really already create that for folks like, "Hey, we partner with these four organizations within our community and we've opened the door and here's the pathway for groups to walk on." And so that's actually pretty clear and clean. For the most part, I mean, there's some work that ministry folks can do on that.
But there are a lot of folks that left that up to each group to really say, who are the people and who are the places? That's the language I like to use. Who are the people and places around you that you can directly impact, that you have a connection with at least a couple of days a week or you have... It doesn't take too much of a reach to get to them.
And so some people, some churches, really focus on schools, because most kids go to a school or even if they're homeschooled or even a private school, there's a community that's there that can be supported. Some people would latch onto a local organization, whether it's a food bank or whether it's a homeless shelter. Those are a lot of the things that rose up.
What we found then, even through the pandemic, as we were promoting books and just hearing from folks, is there are so many needs that arose, very specific, tangible needs, a family that's in need. So you could adopt a family, that's very specific, but it creates a journey and a relationship. And so you get that spectrum of opportunities. But really, at the end of the day, it's just about being aware of what's around you and who's around you.

Frank Barry (10:04):
To your point, having the group collectively know that we're outward focused and making that part of the group ethos and the dialogue and the leadership talking about it and making it an always active part of what the group does, even when they're gathering for different things, making it part of what everyone's talking about, keeping it top of mind.
What do great leaders do? Small group leaders in your research, what stood out about great small group leaders? Because it's not for everyone. I ask it with like, not everybody wants to be it, not everybody thinks it's their gift or skillset or whatever. But some people are really good at it.

Jason Sniff (10:48):
Yeah, you're right. And I think that it's important for us to figure out what are the essentials that we would like in leaders. And I think in this day and age that word alone really pushes people off from jumping in. "Leader? I'm not a leader." They think of somebody that's up here and they always view themselves right here. And in reality, that gap isn't as big.
To answer your question, I think that good leaders help others, they show others that it's easier than you think it is to do this. And we really highlight a couple of things, we call it a catalytic leader, and so that's somebody that doesn't just come in and do everything, but they allow for space for others to jump up and in a little bit more, and it's like this dance. I think the phrase, it takes two to tango, you can throw that into whatever dance move you want there. But it really is a give and take.
And so good leaders recognize, hey, I need to start stuff, but I can't be the one to continue with it, because then everyone just looks to you all the time and then you're stuck. You create lanes and ruts, and so you really try to level that playing field. There's lots of ways to do that. Lots of techniques. There are lots of tips. But somebody that's savvy enough to draw others into just a little bit at a time. "Hey, Frank, you're a good question asker, would you mind next week facilitating our discussion? Here's the four questions that we have."
I give it to you ahead of time and you got some time to think through it, so whether you're an extrovert or an introvert you have some space with that and you just allow for that to swell up a little bit. That's one of the ways that somebody can become a catalytic leader.

Frank Barry (12:33):
What about small group meetings? Did you guys dig in at all to the format or the location or the practical stuff? What makes great small group time? Because different churches... Small groups, they've been around for a long time, we're not reinventing the wheel here, you spent a little time talking to folks and getting a perspective from 100 different churches and groups from all over, not just a single church and how they're doing it there, so I think that's interesting. Did you guys dig into that at all, what makes a great small group meeting?

Jason Sniff (13:12):
For some people this is really exciting, for others they're just like, "Eh, boring stuff," but logistics, we call it logistics, and so on average-

Frank Barry (13:21):
I mean that already leader probably turns some people off, they're like, "Logistics? [crosstalk 00:13:25]."

Jason Sniff (13:25):
"I'm out. I just want to meet with people." Yeah, I totally get it.

Frank Barry (13:28):
"Where's the food?"

Jason Sniff (13:29):
Yeah, but, I mean, from a timeline standpoint, now this is for in person so we have to couch it a little bit, for in person groups we found that between two hours and 15 minutes to two and a half is probably the optimal time. And that time is not all spent studying God's word, which is always great. It's not all spent praying, which is good. I mean, that's good stuff. But it's a combination of worshiping, it's a combination of just announcements and connecting with people like, "Hey, we have this coming up," and particularly if you have a purpose, it's a time to say, ", as a reminder, we're going after this and we're going to be meeting with this school this week. We have the opportunity to celebrate and do a lunch for the teachers."
It's that kind of interactions intertwined with getting into God's word. But then at the end of the day, it's time towards the end to say, now how are we going to live this out? And how are we going to stay connected through the week? And so logistics wise, it's 215 to 230 that we found that was a sweet spot along the way.
In the midst of that too, there's other things like, you can spend too much time praying, which is so weird for us to say as ministry folks. It's got to be intentional in how you pray. If you're praying for people, if you're praying for your neighbors, those things seem to rise up to the top as some healthy things within the group. If you're praying for, Heaven forbid there's cat lovers that are watching this, but if you're praying for your cat who is on its last leg, so to speak, that's okay, but it doesn't bring life into the group, and so intentional praying is what we draw out a little bit. Those elements make a difference.

Frank Barry (15:08):
Hey man, these people are much more committed than me. Two and a half hours? My small group is definitely not hanging out for two and a half hours.

Jason Sniff (15:16):
It's a long time.

Frank Barry (15:17):
I'm in a stage of life with small kids and all the things, and I think that maybe has a little bit of a bearing. The other thing is food. For me, it's like, if we're not eating food, it just... Eating together changes everything. I don't know. Maybe that's a personal preference.

Jason Sniff (15:33):
Well, to that point, Frank, I forgot to mention this. That was an element that pushed it that long, was if you eat a meal together [crosstalk 00:15:43]. And then a lot of folks are still doing Zoom gatherings, or online is probably the better way to say that, and that, we have found, that it's more closer to an hour. 45 minutes to an hour. Because you get all the senses that are intertwined and you can become fatigued. We've all learned a little bit about that. And so [crosstalk 00:16:04] in that scenario, the leader's got to be more directive and needs to be able to just keep people moving, call on people sequentially, that kind of thing, to get people right involved. So that's a whole different ballgame.

Frank Barry (16:17):
Yeah. Well, I mean, look, let's shift. Look first off, I mean, people should go check out your book, so we'll make sure it's in the [crosstalk 00:16:25] and all that stuff. Because I think it's cool, and I think churches, and even small group leaders, or aspiring small group leaders, reading something really helps inspire and motivate and give you ideas and all that. I just think it's good for people to keep reading, so I love it when people come out with great resources like yours. So get the book. You launched it in August, pandemic was here, and things just went bonkers. Churches got disrupted like crazy.

Jason Sniff (17:00):
It did, yeah. They still are.

Frank Barry (17:01):
Everybody's not meeting in person and then meeting in person, I mean it's just all over the place. Now we're maybe in a stable place now, it's different, but maybe it's what stable looks like for the time being. But I don't know. What's the impact been on small groups? So have you seen in your own, in your home church, and what have things looked like over?

Jason Sniff (17:22):
I think we're pretty fortunate. I like to say just the Holy Spirit had set the stage for us well before we knew anything about COVID. We did some trainings a couple years before that, but really tried to bolster our groups to think of themselves as many churches. And we use that language. What if we could not gather corporately on a Sunday, how would we continue to support, spur one another on? And there's nothing prophetic about that, but it played itself out and it was really neat to see, gosh, percentage wise I'm into that stuff, so we had about 85, 86% of our groups stay online. We certainly had a lot of the folks that just said, "Hey, we're meeting in person all the way through," and we're like, "Hey, you're adults. Do your thing."

Frank Barry (18:05):
Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Sniff (18:07):
But that really sustained it, and so-

Frank Barry (18:08):
So you're saying, just real quick, when lockdown hit, 80 something percent of them went into a digital format of some sort, started doing Zoom or whatever else they could dream up, FaceTiming everybody. But then 20-ish percent or so just kept meeting in person. So most groups kept meeting in some format.

Jason Sniff (18:35):
Yes. And that really, personally, for us and our church family, that sustained us and that allowed space for leadership to really figure out, how do we want to utilize our online campus? How do we want to still connect with people? It actually helped us, going backwards in our conversation a little bit, about the purpose. There were needs that arose within our community here in Bloomington, Normal, and most of it had to do with food and distributing of food to people. And so it was a bit easier to mobilize groups to say, "Hey, United Way is passing out lunches over here at this community center and we need two small groups to go do that," and they responded and went and did that. Our own family, that became a staple for us of, let's just go and connect with people and meet their needs, even if it's food, whatever it might be.
And so having that core of groups helped sustain us both support internally, but it actually allowed us to quickly get external along the way, I think. But I think in large, if you blow it up a little bit, I think there are a lot of churches where it was a struggle to get people to stay connected, and so they might be in a season where they're trying to start things back up again, along the way. So certainly our experience, I wouldn't have said had happened for everybody.

Frank Barry (19:54):
Yeah. I mean, I think, mine's anecdotal, talking to different churches here and there, even my own home church, I think groups definitely helped sustain things, from what I hear, but I also hear getting them back going... Zoom groups, I was like fed up, personally. I was like, I can't do this. This is terrible. I don't get to hang out. I don't get to give you a hug. I don't get to eat a meal. Meeting with you on Zoom is what I do for work. It's not what I want to do for my small group.

Jason Sniff (20:33):
It's just an extension of it.

Frank Barry (20:34):
I was in that boat, personally, and anybody that does online work, I'm sure had similar sentiments. So how'd you guys deal with that? If 80% were online, how'd you keep people [crosstalk 00:20:49]? How did you help the small group leaders do that well?

Jason Sniff (20:54):
I think we began to just give them, not just tips like, "Hey, cut it shorter, 45 minutes to an hour." Certainly that was helpful, and we gave them just some quick trainings on here's how to be more directive. But we also just said, "This is now an opportunity to connect more individually outside of your group gathering. So text, call." At one point drive bys were this thing, at least in our area, drive by birthdays. When I grew up that had a different connotation.

Frank Barry (21:24):
That was the thing here, though. Even where I'm at in San Diego, drive by birthdays, the whole parade driving down the street, is the thing.

Jason Sniff (21:31):
So yeah, a whole different meaning these days. But we just encourage that kind of stuff. Any way that you feel comfortable to interact and get close to people, man, that really helped early on. You're in San Diego, so it's nice all the time. In Illinois, it's just nice from May to September.

Frank Barry (21:52):
It's pretty cold, I have a sweater on. I think it's like 68 degrees right now, or maybe 64. It's good. It's a little chilly.

Jason Sniff (21:59):
Yeah, thanks. 37 degrees here today. Appreciate that. That's awesome. Rubbing it in. But we just said, "Utilize outdoor spaces," because we were getting into the spring, and particularly in the summer, and people began to become more comfortable, and so we just were trying to use tips like that.
The biggest piece was, you don't have to meet in this same venue all the time. Figure out different ways. One more leader tip that I think works regardless of a pandemic, is that if you can mobilize those within your group that I like to call our gatherers, so people who others naturally gravitate towards or connect with, or somebody who just loves to reach out. You don't always have to be the one to do that.
Frank, if you're the person that people respond to, I'd just be like, "Hey, can you connect with these three people this week?" And you're like, "Great, I'm on it and got it." And it's not that I just check it off the list, but it's, okay, Frank's on those folks. I can go connect with these folks. And you begin to expand the networking of a group. I think that's been helpful along the way.

Frank Barry (23:04):
That totally makes sense. And I think just you guys being able to train your leaders and have those conversations and spend time helping people think through that kind of stuff is really powerful. Because you might lead a group and just we're busy and we have jobs and kids and sports and all the things, depending on your stage of life. That's where I exist. It's just extra to pull it off and do it well, and having leadership, I'm saying this even from a church leadership, having church leaders invest in the small group leaders and spending time with them and training them and doing small group with the small group leaders, in a sense, to help them, is powerful.

Jason Sniff (23:49):
Right on.

Frank Barry (23:51):
Well, now that we're here, the books out, the pandemic continues on, what are you guys doing at your church to just continue to help your small groups to thrive?

Jason Sniff (24:06):
We've taken some of these concepts, the shifts, if you will. And this was actually another interesting finding, we found that we were doing small groups all wrong here at Eastview, the numbers indicate the traditional size of a small group, 10 to 14, average of 12. Jesus had 12. But Jesus was the only one that could do that [crosstalk 00:24:29]. So 12 is this holier than thou number through the years. The research indicated that smaller small groups or bigger small groups really created the optimal opportunity for growth. So smaller meaning less than seven and bigger meaning 16 or more. Because if you get that big, you actually have to subgroup in some capacity anyway, so it might even just be safer to say smaller small groups, I think, are the trend.

Frank Barry (24:58):
I'm going to tell you a funny, quick story related to small groups. I've had different ones along the journey, but most recently, I mean, this would be a few years back, but we had a small group my wife and I were leading that was, if everybody showed up and their kids, which mostly you'd get most of them, there'd be 40 people in our house.

Jason Sniff (25:21):
That's a big small group.

Frank Barry (25:26):
I guess you've gone outside of small group at that point, but we had a lot of people had a lot of kids, nobody had six, like you, but we had lots of threes.

Jason Sniff (25:36):
It adds up quick though.

Frank Barry (25:37):
It adds up quick. And so you'd have 30, 40 people. But it was crazy, really crazy, hectic, chaotic, because you got all these kids of all different age from newborn to 10 year olds, big range, lots of kids. But it was our stage in life. It was hard to do as a leader. You're hosting it. We had it at our house. We always had a meal. We did things like potlucks or different families would bring the meal and all kinds of stuff, so we did our best to spread it out, but still, nonetheless, when you're leading the group, you take that responsibility on.
But it was probably the best small group I've ever been a part of because it was all of us living life together and going through this phase together and enjoying the crazy. But our kids getting together and doing kids' Bible activities and lessons and these family devotional style things as well as adult things, just mixing it up. But it was crazy and it was awesome, but it was really big. Most people would be like, "That's probably too big." And eventually it was like, "Hey man, we need to split this thing up a little bit, because it's crazy from a church leadership perspective." But nonetheless, it was awesome and it was way oversized. So just validating [crosstalk 00:27:07].

Jason Sniff (27:06):
You have a satellite church right there. You just pump in some worship and you're good to go. No, it's a little bit more than that, I understand.

Frank Barry (27:16):
Totally. Well, this has been awesome. I'm going to hit you with a couple questions, unless you wanted to say something real quick.

Jason Sniff (27:21):
I was just going to, on the smaller small and the bigger big, one quick thing that we are experimenting with is we just did, we just call them all church studies, so it was six weeks, everybody going through the same thing. Ironically, it was called On Purpose and it was about everybody defining their purpose and their groups defining their purpose. But in the midst of that, we just gave an invitation for people to say, "Hey, who are two people, or two couples, that you just want to spend six weeks with and go through this study?"
That was that idea of the smaller small. And we saw a lot of folks decide to do that, and that is an indicator, at least within our community and context, that that type of invitation people are open to. And then on the flip side of that, we just did bigger gatherings of 25 to 50, and we have found, at least this season, everything has life cycle, but in this season, that that is also an invitation that people are saying yes to. It's like your first taste, and so we use groups as a way to break that bigger gathering down into some sizeable things. But anyway, those [crosstalk 00:28:33].

Frank Barry (28:32):
Did you do, just to understand it a little better, because maybe I didn't catch it, so you would have your small groups... I didn't totally follow. So you have a small, but then you would say, "Hey, pick two different couples you want to do something with," so essentially a semester or something like that, where there was three couples, or three families, in a small group, and then the church had a teaching that you guys did?

Jason Sniff (29:01):
Kind of. So with the current groups that we have, we encourage them to meet, first of all, and then to do some organic invitation. Who are the people around you that you just invite in because of that personal invitation. And then for those that we would just consider new to groups, we gave them two options. So the first one was, "Hey, you probably know a couple people around you that aren't connected or that you want to just do this study with, and so we're going to give you everything that you need just to do it and to go that way." That was the you and two friends.

Frank Barry (29:39):
Got it.

Jason Sniff (29:39):
And then we also provided a bigger space for folks that that first option just freaked them out about. [crosstalk 00:29:45] "I'll show up somewhere, but I'm not going to invite anybody." And so that bigger option was for those folks. And then we would just pair them together and have them go through that experience along the way. [crosstalk 00:29:56].

Frank Barry (29:56):
That totally makes sense. Well, this is awesome. I mean, I could keep chatting small groups and all that, but for sake of time, I'm going to ask you a couple quick questions at the end here.

Jason Sniff (30:09):
Great.

Frank Barry (30:10):
So first one, is there a book that you've read, and it could be any time, doesn't have to be recent, but just a book that totally had an impact on you, that has stuck with you for a long time?

Jason Sniff (30:23):
Two come to mind real quick. The first one I read was a few years ago in college, a while back, In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen, and it really both helped me understand servant leadership, but really just spurred inside of me a heart to walk alongside of people and to really just see them exactly where they're at and how God sees him. And so I think that just stirred a lot of compassion and some evangelism inside of me. That was a long time ago.
But then more recently, and I think what was a precursor for us with this book, was Stetzer and Geiger's book, Transformational Groups. And they did some precursor research to prove that groups are important and helpful. And we took that and said, "Hey, we see that, and we're going to go farther with that along the way." And so that actually, that Transformational Groups book, helped our own ministry along the way to really push us towards purpose and push us towards being, we like to say, the best for our community, not the best in our community. And so pushing us towards, we're going to meet and gather as groups, but to what end? And what is our goal in the midst of that? I'd say that was a pivotal book.

Frank Barry (31:35):
Love it. Love those. And so second quick one, podcasts. What's a podcast that you're currently listening to that you're obsessed with?

Jason Sniff (31:44):
Well, I jumped on the bandwagon, the [Marcel 00:31:47] one, [crosstalk 00:31:49]. I'm on the front end of that. That's a good one, I think, along the way. And then, this is so weird, I listen to a couple of different economic ones. My brother-in-law's a financial guy and so he's trying to get me into some of that stuff. I'm a ministry guy, I'm not a [crosstalk 00:32:04].

Frank Barry (32:03):
Which one are you listening to on Bitcoin? I know there's one in there if you're [crosstalk 00:32:10].

Jason Sniff (32:10):
No, no, I try to stay away from that. Anyway, it's all good.

Frank Barry (32:14):
The metaverse, I mean, we got to figure this stuff out. It's all a thing.

Jason Sniff (32:17):
Right, I mean, obviously there's the-

Frank Barry (32:19):
Give me one of the financial ones.

Jason Sniff (32:21):
Sorry, I was going to say the cheesy answer is The Modern Church Leader podcast. That's the good one, right? This is a good one.

Frank Barry (32:28):
But give me one of the financial ones, because it doesn't all have to be spiritual stuff. So what's one of the financial [crosstalk 00:32:33]?

Jason Sniff (32:33):
Oh, gosh, I mean, there's one that's called X22 on there and it, no X21, and it just talks about economic pieces. And then there's another one that is called money.us. And anyway, there you go.

Frank Barry (32:49):
That's a good name, money.us. Okay, cool, cool. [crosstalk 00:32:52].

Jason Sniff (32:52):
I'm sorry, moneytruth.us. Moneytruth.us.

Frank Barry (32:55):
Money truth. That sounds like a family, couples, kind of finance thing. So last thing, where can folks go to find out more about you and your book?

Jason Sniff (33:07):
Book wise, thrivinggroups.com is the website, and there's some fun resources there that are free. There's a course that now we do with smallgroups.com that train up leaders. It's a 10 part video course, about eight minute videos, that help people start groups and then begin to help them walk through the shifts to make sure that they're thriving. And so that's helpful there, that's the website.
We're also on Instagram, thrivinggroups. And then for me personally, my wife and I do this thing on the side, it's called Living on the Edge of Normal, and so we have an Instagram piece called Living on the Edge, and then there's a Facebook page that says, Jason Sniff - Living on the Edge of Normal.
A while back, it was just some crazy thing during COVID where I'm like, there's so many people that have great stories that they wouldn't say that it's a good story, that's just their life, but that other people need to hear about. And so we just try to do a 10 minute thing and highlight a portion of somebody's story that hopefully will motivate other people and just to help them recognize that we just need to share our stories more, and it's okay to listen and to hear other people's stories. So it's just a fun thing, but we do that as well.

Frank Barry (34:23):
That's awesome. Say that one again. It's on Facebook, it sounds like.

Jason Sniff (34:26):
Yeah, on Facebook, and then we also have an Instagram piece. It's called Living on the Edge of Normal.

Frank Barry (34:30):
Living on the Edge of Normal. That sounds cool. I'm going to go check it out. Well, Jason, this was awesome, man. Thanks for your time today.

Jason Sniff (34:36):
Yeah, I appreciate it, Frank. Thanks so much.

Frank Barry (34:38):
Super good. Well guys, it's been great. Thanks. We'll see you next week with another episode of Modern Church Leader.

Narrator (34:44):
If you enjoyed this episode of the Modern Church Leader, consider sharing it with the pastor or minister you think would benefit the most from listening to this conversation. You can send them to modernchurchleader.com, or share this episode directly from your podcast app. Be sure to subscribe for free on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, so you never miss an episode. And we'll see you again next week with another conversation here on the Modern Church Leader.

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Special Offer

Blog

How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact with Jason Sniff

No items found.
How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact with Jason Sniff

If you want to get the most out of your small group, then this is an episode you don't want to miss! Listen on your favorite podcast app: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Podcasts YouTube

Show notes

Listen on your favorite podcast app:

How to Leverage Small Groups for Maximum Impact

Having a small-group ministry is one of the most effective ways to reach out to a community.

If you can maximize your small groups and use them more successfully, it can significantly impact the church’s overall direction.

So what can a church leader do to maximize the potential of their small groups?

With the correct tools and understanding, church leaders may play an essential role in laying the groundwork for small groups. This means ensuring that everyone in the church understands the importance of small groups, their value to the church, and the need to invest in small groups. 

Most people think that small groups are for Bible studies, prayer, and other spiritual activities. While that is true to a large extent, small groups are also where people learn and grow together. It is a place where people can build authentic relationships, share their lives, struggles, and victories. 

The goal for small groups is to expand each person’s potential in the body of Christ. The church can achieve this goal by establishing a culture of small groups, training and equipping small group leaders, and providing regular relationship-building opportunities. 

The New Testament speaks a lot about small groups. They are the backbone of almost everything we do in the body of Christ. Jesus used small groups to teach, build relationships, and minister. In fact, one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of small groups is to look at the ministry of Jesus. 

If you're ready to take your small group ministry to the next level, then here is your chance to find out how with our guest this episode. Jason Sniff, Small Group Pastor of New Creation Church, will share strategies to help you grow your church community and reach more people through small groups. Having written and co-authored small group resources and studies, Jason understands firsthand the plight of every pastor and church leader when it’s time to revamp their small groups.

We can get people together, we can gather them, and they might even grow. But we missed the Great Commission, which is to go and take what we're learning with us wherever we go.
-Jason Sniff 

Jason A. Sniff is the Pastor of Small Groups at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. He has spent over a decade in ministry, mostly building leaders and equipping leaders to influence the world. Prior to entering the ministry, Jason worked in higher education for 13 years, counseling, discipling, teaching, and training college students.

If you want to get the most out of your small group, then this is an episode you don't want to miss! 

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • Ideas to help you maximize small groups in ministry
  • How to leverage small groups to make your church more effective
  • The ways to find, lead and equip small group leaders
  • The role of small groups in evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development
  • The essential qualities of a good small group leader 
  • How to engage every person in a small group and get them connected

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[05:51] What we found is that for a number of churches, if you have a DNA core culture of groups, it helps to stay in churches through the times in which you couldn't gather corporately.

[06:57]  Every group not only needs to have a defined purpose but it's got to be external, outside of themselves.

[07:10] We can get people together, we can gather them, and they might even grow. But we missed the Great Commission, which is to go and take what we're learning with us wherever we go.

[11:10] I think that good leaders help others. They show others that it's easier than you think it is. We call it a catalytic leader. And so that's somebody that doesn't just come in and do everything, but they allow for space for others to jump up in do a little bit more. 

[17:21] I like to say the Holy Spirit kind of sets the stage for us. Before we knew anything about COVID,  we did some training a couple of years before that, trying to bolster our groups to think of themselves as many churches. I would kind of use that language like, what if we could not gather corporately on a Sunday? How would we continue to spur one another?

[22:18] One more leader tip that I think works, regardless of a pandemic, is that you can mobilize those within your group that I like to call gatherers—people who naturally connect or somebody who just loves to reach out. 

[24:29] The research indicated that smaller small groups or bigger small groups created the optimal opportunity for growth. So smaller, meaning less than seven, and bigger, meaning 16 or more, because if you get that big, you actually have to subgroup in some capacity anyway. So, it might even just be safer to say smaller small groups.

video transcript

(Scroll for more)