An effective support-recovery group ministry requires a group of individuals to be willing to listen, understand, and work together towards a common goal of growth. For that to happen, group leaders and participants must all play their part to ensure that a group remains healthy. In order to determine the health of groups there are two categories of key factors to evaluate: tangible and intangible.
Tangible Evidences of Group Health:
Consistency, Progress, and Retention
Ministry Consistency – In order for a group to be successful, one of the most critical indicators is that of consistency. For that reason, G4 has chosen to ensure that we do not cancel group for any reason. Our goal is to maintain consistency for individuals so that they can invest with us weekly in their journey.
Leader Consistency – Much like the larger ministry, we ask our volunteers to be present each week, asking for at least a year-long commitment. We understand that some circumstances, such as health and family emergencies, will prevent leaders from attending which is why our desire is to have co-leaders for each group. Shared leadership allows for groups to meet consistently even when one leader must be absent.
Participant Consistency – Participants are also expected to commit to being consistent. In the beginning group participants are asked to invest for the set period of time of six weeks. After that period, new participants are asked to determine if they are willing to commit to investing in G4 for the entirety of the curriculum. For a deeper look at what committing to a group means, read this previous post.
Evaluation: How often do leaders or participants miss group leading to an inconsistency in group?
Progression Through Curriculum:
Progress through Curriculum – At G4, one of our core values is that we believe in the importance of blending discipleship, accountability, and a guided process. To help with the guided process, each group works through a subject specific curriculum. Our desire is that each group would prayerfully progress through the nine steps in each curriculum. Leaders are meant to facilitate group each week at a pace that would allow participants to reach the end of the material in a timely manner.
Progress into Church Life – After participants have completed the curriculum and feel they have made the desired progress in their journey, it is important to see them graduate and transition back into the larger church community.
Progress into G4 Leadership – If at the completion of the material, participants have seen the desired victory in their particular area and believe in the importance of the work done at G4, then it is important to see some of those participants transition into leadership positions. Groups who are the healthiest will be led by leaders who are reproducing leaders.
Reflection: Are you regularly seeing participants progress through the material, into church life, and back into leadership roles?
Retaining New Participants:
In order to grow our ministry and most effectively help individuals who are new to the group, it is important that leaders integrate them quickly into the group. This requires leaders to:
- Lead out in vulnerability and honesty.
- Invite new participants to briefly share their stories along with a few existing to demonstrate the honesty and transparency of the group.
As new participants come into the group leaders should explain the purposes and goals of the group. While coming to a group for the first time can be awkward, the group leaders can help to alleviate the awkwardness by being kind and welcoming. During the first few weeks, we want to allow new group participants to get acclimated to the climate of the group, feeling more confident with sharing and becoming more a part of the group each time, they are present.
After new participants become comfortable in group, they should be committed to attending each week until they have completed the curriculum and seen victory.
Measure: What is the level of motivation of someone who attends group for the first time? The higher the level of motivation the more likely they are to remain in the group.
Reflection: What percentage of first time guest attending your group have become consistent participants?
Intangibles Evidences of Group Health:
Transparency, Growth, and Language
Honesty and Transparency:
In any recovery-support group, honesty and transparency are vital aspects of how members should interact with each other. Individuals must be willing to share meaningful experiences with each other in a genuine display of openness in order to make an impact for change. Participants in the group should be vulnerable with group members in a way that is challenging yet helpful.
“You will only be as free as you are honest. Privacy kills change and fuels sin (p. 46).” – Overcoming Addiction, Brad Hambrick
Honesty and transparency lead to bringing the truth to the table that allows the individual to deal with either the sin or the suffering that is happening in their life. When groups function in a way that is open to being truthful, individuals will not only be willing to share but also be willing to hear from other members in the group about their struggle. At the point where groups are truly effective these thoughts, suggestions, and opinions do not feel like an attack from other members but are met with appreciation.
Reflection: Are participants providing surface level answers week after week, or does it seem as though they are genuinely revealing their struggle and welcoming others perspectives?
Advocating by Participants:
Participants who feel that they have found something that has been beneficial will seek to advocate for that thing to others around them that they see struggling. Former and current participants tend to be the best connection point to G4 because individuals who have experienced change and seen the most growth as a result of the group. When something works, people recommend it and that can be seen when an individual believes that the group will not only work for them but would helpful for others and choose to suggest G4 to them.
Reflection: When new people enter into the group, how many of those are being referred from former or current participants?
In effective recovery-support groups, participants will become familiar with the curriculum as they work through it alongside their personal journey. Part of that familiarity with the curriculum is the ability to understand and speak the same language as those that are facilitating the groups. This means that as the participants progress through their journey, they should have a framework to be able to discuss their struggle and where they currently are in their journey with other individuals in the group.
Being able to not only use common words but having the same definition for those words is important for the effectiveness of the group. If individuals within the group are not speaking the same language and discussing their struggles from a common framework it can lead to a misunderstanding among participants. Having new participants begin to acclimate to the language used in the curriculum ensures that participants are not using words inaccurately or incongruously.
Reflection: How often do you hear group members say something like, “I realize what I’m saying now is a Step 3 kind of statement where I’m identifying the motive of my struggle,” during side conversations before or after group?