There are three major benefits to the free-market small group model:
1. The groups are passion-driven, springing forth out of felt needs among the women themselves. Therefore, the variety of groups is endless. We've had gourmet cooking groups, MOPS groups, financial-planning groups, marriage groups, in-depth Bible studies, mentoring groups, softball groups, weight-loss groups, divorce-recovery groups, 12-Step groups, and groups for singles. We encourage them to meet in homes and other venues around the city. Because the groups are passion-driven, the leaders are committed to their success and tend to lead multiple groups and/or lead during every small-group cycle.
2 . Groups spawn new leaders. This model inherently encourages new leaders. For example, Millie led a small group for mothers with young children. Each mom took a turn hosting the group in her home. The women in the group developed significant life-giving relationships that attracted more women to the group. The original group spawned another group, which required a leader. Leaders receive small-group training and are encouraged to identify other potential leaders within their groups.
3. Groups provide leadership opportunities for women. The free-market small group model encourages every woman to lead a small group. Potential group leaders attend a leaders' orientation, receive training, and get the support of a coach. A coach is a woman who comes alongside the small-group leader to support, encourage, and pray for her and for her group members. Each coach has a lead coach who is charged with identifying women leaders, providing leadership development, praying, and encouraging her coaches.
Groups provide life-giving atmospheres where women can connect with one another and with God. Ultimately, life change happens within the context of relationships, and the free-market small group model provides the opportunity for every woman to connect with other women in authentic relationships and grow in her relationship with Christ.
The free-market small group model has transformed the way women experience church at Bayside. Through our coaching structure, women are empowered to use their passion to create small groups so women can impact our community with the gospel. Along with the plethora of small groups that are running this year, we have our first small group for military wives as well as one for wives whose husbands work protecting our community: policemen, firemen, and EMTs.