Ask the Network – This month: “What is a huddle?”

This month’s Network Exchange question comes from Donald Dillard of South Carolina who just recently attended our Atlanta conference…”What is a huddle?”

Here are the answers from you – our PDSG Network members…

From Jen Hurst, Regional Point Person for Los Angeles area

huddleJust a short time ago, I wasn’t quite sure what a huddle was. I have heard the term for years, and suddenly found myself organizing them. So when I sent out an email to my friends and contacts who lead Small Group ministries in other churches in Los Angeles, I told them that a huddle provides an avenue for Small Group Point People to pray for our churches and cities, encourage one another, and brainstorm how we can further reach our cities and churches.

When I recently held my first huddle, I discovered something else. Our huddle became a way to set aside our own agendas for the benefit of others as we could sense the urgency in one another’s voices. It reminded us of our roots, as well as our aspirations as we remembered the differences between leading a Small Group Ministry of 5 groups and looked ahead to a ministry with 500 groups. And ultimately, it reminded me that Jesus is leading this ministry. Not me. Not the ladies I met with this morning. Not Cheryl Shireman or Steve Gladen.

We’re still figuring out what a huddle looks like for us (Discussing a book? Case studies? Mini-seminars? Or just a good cup of coffee with friends?), but I’m discovering what it is – it is people coming together because of a shared passion for seeing Jesus’ name lifted up in relationship and in real life.
This month we discussed ideas for getting and training new hosts/leaders, and how to encourage groups that have had a long lifespan to be open to the program/vision.

From Reid Smith, Area Point Leader for Florida

A “huddle” is a learning community with a missional focus. It’s a gathering of small group ministry point leaders who come together to learn from one another, pray for one another, network with each other, support one another, and freely exchange ideas and resources with one another – all so that we can help one another advance God’s purposes in and through His Church.

huddle2I’d say there isn’t ONE format for a huddle. It depends – simplicity and freedom in how we communicate what it is and looks like is important I think. What I’ve done, for example, is a 3-hour gathering mid-week (since a lot of pastors either take Mon or Fri as their day-off) or a 2-3 hour gathering Sat morning if you want participants to invite unpaid small group leadership (SGLs / coaches, etc.). Each huddle has a beginning, middle, and end.

The beginning includes fellowship, an introduction of the network & participating churches, and the topic (if applicable) of the huddle. I’ve done a 10-15 presentation in order to provide talking points in the breakout.

The middle consists of the breakout time. This is the largest body of time leaders spend together. I’d advise AT LEAST an hour, but preferably 90-minutes that includes a couple sets of discussion questions. The goal here is to make connections and find commonalities. Think of a huddle as a launching pad for ongoing partnerships among participants.

Finally, the end brings everyone back together to share & synthesize learnings with the large group. I conclude with announcements (e.g. tools they can use like, when the next huddle will be, and what I – as the APL or SPP – will do as action steps like email everyone a contact list of network participants along with a summary of their contributions whether they’re thoughts or tools) and prayer.

From Elaine Morse, State Point Person for Washington state

We have a unique variety of rugged individualist in the NW. Often we find it challenging to understand the ways of the Northwesterner. In recent months a Washington based insurance company has aired television ads with a tag line, “…we’re a lot like you”. The commercials depict “wool-sock-sandal-guy” “efficient-recycler-woman” and “rainy-weekend-blue-tarp-camper-dad” If you are from around here you understand these depictions.

In our huddles we seek to understand and relate to ‘wool-sock-sandal-guy”. We want to be relevant to “efficient-recycler-woman” and we desire to find community with “rainy-weekend-blue-tarp-camper-dad”. As a huddle group we share pieces of information with one another that we’ve picked up along the way.

We also look at some of the technology each of us utilizes to collate information and synthesize it into meaningful action. We share curriculum and re-launch strategies with one another. We share ideas for catalyzing events that we hope will move people into group life.

From Michael Moore, Area Point Leader for Atlantic Coast

One thing we promise to do at every huddle is to have time for everyone to ask their “burning question.” When you come to a meeting, we will do our best to help with that one thing that is the biggest need in your ministry. We also pick one subject to go deeper into at each huddle. It is usually chosen by everyone during the previous meeting or via email. For instance, in May we all discussed how to best train and invest in our Coaches or Community Leaders.

From Jay Daniell, Area Point Leader for North Central and our PDSG Network Database Manager

I feel that each huddle should encourage participants in their ministry as well as their personal faith walk. With this in mind, it would seem appropriate to get to know one another personally (fellowship) through light personal discussion. I usually plan to share a scripture (discipleship) for encouragement and potential discussion. In some huddles a heavy duty Bible study may be appropriate, but often just a Word of encouragement is appreciated. I also like to allow time for prayer (worship) with and for each other’s mission and ministry.

Mission and ministry can usually be covered thoroughly by everyone sharing “The 4 P’s”:

  • Praise – What’s one good thing that has happen in your ministry?
  • Problem – What is one challenge facing your ministry?
  • Plan – What ministry plans do you have?
  • Pray – How can I pray for you?

Just as in small groups, huddle ownership and participation can be increased by sharing roles such as host, snacks, prayer leader or devotion leader.

To stimulate discussion in the first few meetings, before arriving at the huddle, I will ask the host what Small Group challenges their specific ministry is facing. Then I come prepared to discuss that issue with the group. I have learned that all Small Group Point People face similar challenges as they relate to the individual congregation’s culture. It’s likely that others have already; are currently; or will be soon facing the same issue.

From Bruce Southerland, State Point Person for New Hampshire

Huddle outline:
What’s Hot? (What is working great in your ministry?)
What’s Not? (What problems are you facing in your ministry?)
What’s Next? (What have you thought about doing to address your problems?)
What Do You Need From Me? (What can I do to help you?)
What Do You Need From God? (What personal issue are you facing that we can pray about together?)

Thank you to all of you who gave us an answer to the question, “What is a huddle?”

Remember – a huddle will reflect your area and your culture. Put simply, a huddle is a meeting for Small Group Point People. These huddles may be as informal as a few people gathering over coffee or as elaborate as a small group conference. The idea is to get together with other Small Group Point People in your area so that you can build relationships, exchange ideas and resources, and be more intentional in your strategy to build healthy groups.

– – – – – – –

NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION is from Elaine Morse, our State Point Person for Washington – “What is the latest in curriculum? What works well for moving a younger (30 something) crowd toward spiritual growth and action in their communities?”

Send your answers and other questions to Who knows, your answer or question could be featured next month!

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