Best Practices >> Leading HomeBuilders | Planning

Planning for HomeBuilders Small Groups

Leader qualifications

Leading a HomeBuilders group does not require an expert Bible teacher or a couple with a “perfect” marriage. The leader of the group is a facilitator, not a lecturer. The main function of the facilitator is to provide an environment of openness, warmth, and acceptance.

The facilitator is a fellow member of the group who has the added responsibility of guiding the group in the right direction within the set time period (sixty minutes). The best leaders are couples willing to share their successes and weaknesses while trying to foster a better marriage at the same time.

If you are unsure about your ability to lead, consider co-leading with another couple. You can divide the responsibilities. Together you can trust God to work in your lives and to help other couples.

Starting a HomeBuilders group

As a couple, commit to each other and to God to make the HomeBuilders group a priority for the time it will take to complete the study. (Remember, it only requires a short-term commitment. You may choose to meet weekly or every other week.) Decide how you will share responsibility for organizing and leading the group, preparing for the session, phone calling, and details of hospitality.

Inviting couples to participate

You may want to ask your chaplain if he knows of any couples who would be interested and if you could promote the group within the chapel (see below). Invite friends, neighbors, coworkers, and parents from your children’s school or teams. A personal invitation is always best.

These studies also can be used in Gateway Ministries as young men and women prepare for military duty. It would be appropriate for senior cadets at academies as they look toward their first assignment and possibly marriage. Engaged couples living in the United States or overseas who are considering joining the military would also benefit.

We should mention that the content is designed primarily for couples who do not know much about the Bible. Couples who are already mature in their Christian faith may find the content very basic; we advise them to see the group as an opportunity to reach out and help couples who are younger in the faith.

Show potential group members the materials and tell them about the discussion format. You will want to assure couples that the study will help make a good marriage better, and that they will be making a limited time commitment.

An ideal size for the group is four to seven couples—including you and your spouse.

Starting HomeBuilders in your chapel

If you are interested in starting HomeBuilders in your chapel, volunteer to lead a group there. Make it clear to your chaplain that you will do the work, and show him or her the HomeBuilders material.

Explain how the principles from the study have affected your life, and share how chapels can use HomeBuilders in a variety of ways. But if the chaplain is not interested, respect his or her wishes and start a neighborhood group instead.

Small groups

Chapels most frequently use HomeBuilders studies in small groups or as an evening Bible study. If small groups already exist at your chapel, talk with the person who makes decisions on the curriculum. If there are no small groups currently meeting, you could offer to organize the first group.

Retreats or weekend emphasis

A chapel or Sunday school class often sets aside a weekend to emphasize strong marriages. This provides a great setting to share a series of HomeBuilders sessions.

Sunday school

There are two important adaptations that will need to be made if you want to use these studies in a classroom setting:

1. The material you cover will need to focus on the content from the Blueprints section of each session. Blueprints is the heart of each session and is designed to last approximately forty-five minutes.

2. Most Sunday school classes are geared around a teaching format instead of a small-group format. If these studies are to be used in a class setting, the class will need to adapt to a small group dynamic. This will involve an interactive, discussion-based format, and may also require a class to break into multiple smaller groups. We recommend groups of six to eight people.

Promotion: Consider the following ideas:

• Advertise in base newspapers, at Family Support centers, and through command channels.

• Send invitations to chapel members and neighbors.

• Advertise in the chapel bulletin, newsletter, or flyers.

• Conduct an introductory meeting to demonstrate the effectiveness and fun of HomeBuilders.

• Have your chaplain endorse HomeBuilders from the pulpit.

• Use sign-up sheets.

• Invite your chaplain or Sunday school teacher to observe an existing class.

Childcare

It is important that your group focus on the study material without distractions and interruptions. Ask your group what works best for them. Childcare must be dependable. Some couples will not be able to commit to every group session if childcare is not provided. Here are some suggestions:

• Arrange babysitting in one house and hold the study in another.

• Pool resources to hire a babysitter.

• Ask if any couples have older children who would babysit.

• Use available childcare or chapel facilities when the nursery is already scheduled to be open.

• Hold your group meetings at the same time as chapel Awana or other children’s programs.

Ready to lead your study? Read on: Leading Your Study.

Still have questions? Then ask the experts using the pull-down to the right.

Jim and Bea Fishback

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