The Family Project
Why do families work? Because God Himself designed them! Thriving families will lead to thriving communities, and thriving communities will transform the world. People will find purpose, joy and redemption; and generation after generation will create a positive legacy.
The Family Project is a 12 session DVD experience for couples or small groups that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.
The Family Project also offers a hope-filled, optimistic antidote to the current landscape of familial breakdown, sending a clear message that a return to the time-tested, historical model of the family is where so many of our culture’s wounds begin to heal. It’s designed to develop a new appreciation for why family matters…based on a bigger understanding of who God is in His character and why He created humanity the way He did. Equipped with this information, viewers will also be exposed to a wealth of hands-on tools and resources to help them embrace those values within their own families and pass them along to future generations.
Preparing to run The Family Project
Introduction to The Family Project
Welcome to The Family Project. We’re glad you’ve decided to join us on this 12-week journey into God’s design for the family. Focus on the Family created The Family Project for the purposes of showing how God reveals His very nature through the family, and demonstrating how families can impact the culture around them.
Consider some of the difficult issues facing us today. Whether it’s poverty, divorce, abuse, crime, or a host of other social ills–all of them can, in some way, point back to the breakdown of the family. When we ignore God’s design for family, society suffers. However, when we embrace it, society thrives.
We know it can be difficult to talk about these issues—especially when we realise that every family, including our own, is dysfunctional to one degree or another. That’s why we want to make sure that as a small group leader, you have all the tools you need in order to facilitate an enriching and encouraging group study experience.
In the following videos, you’ll receive tips on how to engage your group in discussion. You’ll also discover what it means to shepherd and host your group over the next twelve weeks. We want you to feel confident as you enter into your role as leader—encouraged and equipped to dig deep into the concepts presented in The Family Project and able to apply them to your own life. With prayer and just a little bit of preparation, we hope that you’ll find leading The Family Project to be a fun and rewarding experience.
Thank you for making the commitment to being a small group leader for The Family Project. Whether you’ve led small groups in the past or this is your first time, we hope you’ll find these tips helpful in making the experience inspiring and enriching–for you and your small group.
You Don't Need To Be An Expert
As a leader of a The Family Project small group, you play an important role in how people experience the material presented over the course of twelve weeks. You will be helping your group navigate through deep topics and discussion.
That probably sounds like a daunting responsibility. But keep this in mind: while your role as a leader is important, it is not something to stress over. You do not have to be an expert as you’ll be learning along with your small group. Your primary responsibility is to guide the group into discussion. That’s it!
This is great news because it means that your preparation time is very limited. We recommend that you look over the questions presented in the leader’s guide before the group meets.
This will give you an idea of what you’ll be watching and discussing in the group. Everyone should have a copy of a participant’s guide which will also help you navigate through the material. It’s that simple.
While no one is expecting you to be the top theologian in the group, there are two key roles for you to fill as small group leader: shepherd and host. In the next couple of videos, we’ll examine how these roles function and offer a few common sense principles to keep in mind as you serve your group.
How To Shepherd Your Small Group
In the last session, we established that you have two key roles as a small group leader for The Family Project; shepherd and host. Let’s talk about what the shepherding role means for you.
The Oxford Dictionary defines shepherd as someone who guides or directs in a particular direction. That’s your primary function as a small group leader. You have the opportunity to provide guidance and care for those in your group. You also guide discussion and offer enthusiasm about what you’re studying for the week. Remember, your preparation time doesn’t have to be intense, but a general knowledge of the week’s material will be helpful.
As you get ready to start your small group, make sure you set up clear expectations for everyone involved. Communicate clearly your start and end times for the group and make sure to honor those. No doubt people will have child care arranged or set aside time for specifically for the group, so it will be important to be honor their commitments with adherence to the set times.
Also, the subject matter can be heavy and deep. Starting and ending the meetings with prayer will be essential. Prayer will give your group time to prepare their hearts for what God has in store for the evening. After you’ve met a few times, encourage other members of the group pray for your time together.
Shepherding your small group in discussion and prayer is crucial to ensuring your small group time is a time of rich discussion and learning. We hope these tips give you guidance as you work to make your small group a rich experience for all involved.
How To Host Your Small Group
We’ve established what it means to shepherd your Family Project small group. It’s important for you to serve as a friendly guide to keep things moving as the study progresses week by week.
Now, let’s take a look at what it means to be a host.
Hosting can seem like a fairly obvious assignment as a leader, but it’s one you shouldn’t take for granted. Whether you’re hosting at your home or at church, there are a few things to take into consideration when hosting a small group.
The most important thing is to make sure that everyone feels welcome and loved. There will be a variety of personalities in your group, so be intentional about making sure everyone is acknowledged and made comfortable.
In addition to welcoming everyone, make sure you have adequate space to host the small group. Take time to set up chairs and couches before everyone arrives. Create an environment that is contusive to watching the video as well as interaction and discussion after the video is over.
You don’t have to take time creating a lavish spread, but consider having a few snacks and drinks available for your guests. You can also pass around a sign-up sheet so everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the group over your time together.
Finally, make sure that all of your technology functions correctly. It can be embarrassing to have everyone settled, ready to engage with the study, only to discover that there is an issue with the equipment. Before everyone shows up, make sure that your TV and DVD player are working and that the session is set up, giving you the opportunity to maximize your discussion time.
By putting just a bit of effort into the shepherding and hosting roles, you create a welcoming environment that invites people to come back week after week.
Launching Your Family Project Small Group
Now that you have a simple overview of what is involved in being a small group leader, we hope you’re feeling encouraged to take on this important role. Remember, you don’t have to be the expert, but you do get to shepherd and host your small group over the next twelve weeks.
With that in mind, let’s walk through what a small group meeting might look like. We recommend that you set aside one and one half hours for your meeting. Assuming you are meeting in the evening, your agenda might look something like this.
First, everyone arrives at the perhaps at 7 PM. Remind everyone of the need to show up on time every week. From 7 to 7:15, you might have time for fellowship, and if it’s your first time meeting, having everyone in the group introduce themselves.
Next, from 7:15 to 7:45, play that week’s session on the DVD. Not every session is exactly 30 minutes, but this is a good estimate. From 7:45 to 8:15, you’ll dig into your Leader’s and Participants’ guides and have a great discussion. Around 8:15 or so, you’ll want to start wrapping things up, and then close in prayer. By 8:30, everyone should feel free to leave. Again, running late on a regular basis will lead to frustration. Respect everyone’s time, both in terms of when you start and when you end.
Once everyone has arrived, keep an eye on the clock and help make sure everyone is seated and ready to watch the DVD on time. It’s also a good idea to ask folks to mute their cell phones during the session. Once the video segment is over, follow the outline in your Leader’s Guide to direct the discussion. Make sure every individual or couple has their own Participants’ Guide. If some members of the group seem quiet or hesitant to contribute, don’t embarrass them. Just gently encourage everyone to participate.
Keep in mind, The Family Project has a redemptive and uplifting message, but it also covers material that some people may find upsetting. I’m talking about things like divorce, or wayward children, or abortion. It’s quite possible that you or other members of the group have experienced deep personal pain as a result of some of these things.