Small
Groups

A transformational community where everyone truly understands

Since 1997, participants in Stand in the Gap

small groups have started out as acquaintances,

grown into close friends,

and eventually developed into “families”. 

Why to host

One predominant fact has stood out in our years of research on and ministry to widows: No one understands a widow like another widow.

That fact is the basis of Stand in the Gap for Widows Small Groups. When you create space for widows to talk to each other, they find that their struggles (which can feel completely isolating) are actually shared experiences. This camaraderie creates a path to healing.

Click through the toggles below for your complete guide to Stand in the Gap for Widows Small Groups.

How to host

The structure of each meeting is a five-step process that allows the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds: 

  1. Open in prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead the meeting.
  2. Share any God Sightings and scripture. A God Sighting is how a widow is experiencing God working in her life.
  3. Have a healthy discussion and find helpful tools regarding the issues presented. 
  4. Present where each member needs to see God move in her life. 
  5. Close in prayer and wait on the Holy Spirit to work. 

Contributing Creators

Thank you to our partner organizations Balcony Women and Asbury United Methodist Church who contributed to the creation of this guide.

This ministry guide includes:

(Scroll down to download these materials)

  • Five Step Meeting Agenda
  • Ministry Roster

All the materials can be edited to meet your specific needs.  Please contact Amy Woody at amyw@sitgm.org for assistance with any of our Widow Ministry Tool Kit materials.

Small Group Guide

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed this word of the Lord: “Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17. Stand in the Gap for Widows is an amazing opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ.

The widow Small group methodology is based on Psalm 68:5-6, “…a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” Since 1997, participants in Stand in the Gap small groups have started out as acquaintances, grown into close friends, and eventually developed into “families”. 

The structure of each meeting is a five-step process that allows the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds: 

  •  Open in prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead the meeting.
  •  Share any God Sightings and scripture.  A God Sighting is how a widow is experiencing God working in her life.
  • Have a healthy discussion and find helpful tools regarding the issues presented. 
  • Present where each member needs to see God move in her life. 
  • Close in prayer and wait on the Holy Spirit to work. 

This process places all the responsibility for the transformation of human hearts on the Holy Spirit. No person truly fixes another person. That is the work of God.  God answers prayer. Our responsibility is to provide a loving, supportive community that creates the necessary, safe, and healthy environment for transformation. This is a tried-and-true method that is built on the wisdom of the Word.

A widow small group is encouraged to meet for a minimum of one year. Most of our widow ministry small groups continue to meet after their initial one-year anniversary.  The meetings should be scheduled monthly, once or twice a month is optimal. Scheduled meetings should be in session for at least an hour. This may seem like a major time commitment, and it is. However, most bible study programs require more time. 

Small groups can consist of 4 to 40 widows.  As your group grows in number, you will need to create smaller support systems within the larger group to make sure the widows emotional needs are met outside of your regularly scheduled meetings.  Our Program Director can give you the resources and guidance on how to implement these systems.  

Some of our partners have opted to only host widows within their organization and others design their group to be an outreach. The size and structure of your widow small group will be determined by your access to volunteers and the resources available to you.  Stand in the Gap will guide your organization with the best-case practices that will help you succeed.

Where will you hold your first small group meeting? 

Stand in the Gap for Widows recommends that you choose a comfortable setting.  Some small groups meet in a quiet room that is part of the church campus. Other families meet in homes. This is entirely your decision. A local restaurant may not be an optimal location due to the nature of the small group meeting.  Widows will need to feel safe sharing and a public setting may not be conducive to allowing them this opportunity.

Who is in charge? 

Ideally, there are volunteers who function as co-leaders serving with several committee members. 

Co-leaders are responsible for organizing and conducting the monthly meetings, maintaining a focus on God’s love and on practical discussions. They keep a journal of prayer requests and are responsible for keeping the group on track and creating an environment of unity. 

Committee Members Assignments

Meeting Reminder Volunteer – Volunteers are responsible to coordinate with the church to access room assignments and reminds the group members of the monthly meetings via email or text message.

Social Volunteer – Volunteers are responsible for planning group outings. It is important to establish bonds within the group outside the normal group setting.  Hosting fun fellowship quarterly gatherings like going to lunch, meeting at a park, and going to a movie create a sense of community.  One of our partners has a set lunch date following each of their monthly meetings.  

Roster Volunteer – Volunteers are responsible for creating and updating the group roster.  A sample roster is provided for you in the resource section.  It is important to remind the group that all information provided in the roster will remain private within the group and must not be shared.  The roster is utilized to help the community lift up and encourage each other by supporting their friends on dates of remembrance and in times of need.

“Who to call when…” Roster Volunteer – Volunteers responsible for creating and updating a list of safe and reliable service industry professionals.  Widows are often the target of unscrupulous people.  Having a list of industry professionals that others in the group trust is a helpful start when dealing with a stressful issue.  Some partners have even added a section on “who not to use when…” if they have had a bad experience.

Remembrance Volunteers – Volunteers responsible for lifting up and encouraging group members on special and triggering dates such as sending birthday cards or calling a widow on the anniversary of her husband’s heavenly birthday.  A list of dates is listed on the sample roster located in the resource section.

The above is presented as the optimal structure for a small group, but the reality is that some groups form with one or two volunteers taking on most of the volunteer roles.  It is important to make sure that the person taking on the volunteer responsibility is doing so with a loving mindset and is careful of not becoming a victim of volunteer fatigue.  A ministry will be short-lived if it’s leaders and volunteers become overwhelmed.  Our most successful partnerships have been ones that utilized both widow small group members and non-widowed women volunteers.

The Meeting Reminder Volunteer, Roster Volunteer, and “Who to call when …” Roster Volunteer can easily be delegated to a non-widowed woman outside of your group that has a heart for widows.  The Social Volunteer and Remembrance Volunteers should be composed of widows within the group.  The social and emotional element of being a widow makes this necessary in order to meet the widows needs.

Five Step Meeting Agenda

This is only an outline. For full details of the Five Step Meeting Agenda, download the PDF below.

  1.  Open in prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to lead the meeting.
  2.  Share any God Sightings and scripture.  A God Sighting is how a widow is experiencing God working in her life.
  3. Have a healthy discussion and find helpful tools regarding the issues presented. 
  4. Present where each member needs to see God move in her life. 
  5. Close in prayer and wait on the Holy Spirit to work. 

Download and print the following documents.