Connect Groups are the pulse that drives Hillsong Church from within.
These groups create small communities of connection for people, in what could otherwise be a large anonymous body of people. They provide space for individuals to grow both personally and spiritually; amongst a group of like minded, supportive, encouraging and trustworthy people.
There is no one right answer to how a Connect Group must be put together but what is essential to understand is how important they are to the health and growth of the church.
Connect Groups can be a gathering of people united by their shared enjoyment of a particular activity, like surfing or trying out new cafes, geographical proximity, demographic or age, or a mixture of all of the above.
Often in various church settings it can be difficult to find the right people to take on the leadership of a smaller group within the church body. It can take significant time to build up and equip leaders who are capable of and willing to lead a smaller number of people through the journey of faith.
Sometimes people are deterred from leading a Connect Group because they feel as if they need to be a theologian, Bible teacher or preacher, or a qualified counselor. This is simply not true!
A leader does not need to have all of the answers, but to lead a Connect Group that person must be willing to facilitate discussion and to create a safe, trustworthy environment.
One way to be strategic and intentional in developing and equipping leaders is to create a leadership “factory”.
This could mean gathering the current Connect Group leaders, those who attend Connect Groups, and people who are interested in stepping into leadership to a regular leadership training. This is an opportunity for you to create community amongst willing leaders, while also giving space to set the expectations and culture of what it means to lead a small group in your local church.
Every leadership factory will look different, but there are a few important elements that are essential as you begin to develop new Connect Group leaders in your church:
1. Define leadership
Every church consists on people from different backgrounds and experiences. It’s important to make sure you provide a clear picture of what leadership looks like in your context and how you expect leaders to reflect your church culture and environment.
2. Clear Commitment
People are often very busy and may be weary to take on more. If they know what they are saying yes to before jumping in, you could save your church and congregation from many pastoral issues in the future. After defining expectations, make the requirements clear so that people know exactly what they’re getting into.
3. Opportunity to respond
After a clear picture of leadership has been laid out and potential leaders understand the level of commitment, give everyone an opportunity to say yes or no. People are far more likely to stand behind a decision made on the own volition without pressure or coercion.
As Connect Groups grow in your church we believe that you will see greater health and maturity in your church as a whole. Pastor Brian always says, “We don’t just preach to peoples Sundays, we preach to their Mondays”.
By investing in people as leaders you make a way for people to become stronger both spiritually and personally, and through this, allow them to be impacted and encouraged by church not only on their Sundays, but through their Mondays as well!