Inspiring a Love for Evangelism
Trimester Groups - Part One
Trimester Groups, (also known as Missional Groups and/or Free Market Groups) are at the heart of reaching the lost. When we look at the method that Jesus used in reaching out to others we find that Ministry of Healing, page 143, states:
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people.  The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good.  He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence.  Then He bade them, ’Follow Me.’”

Trimester Groups focus usually in four different areas of ministry. The first would be just getting acquainted with neighbors, work associates, and others, which takes time.  Building those relationships means spending quality and sometimes quantity time with others.  Finding what interests others have and getting involved in what they are interested in builds relationships. So a Trimester Group made up of 2-6 individuals may connect with others in areas of interest such as going golfing, boating, skiing, fishing, etc. we would call this a Relational Oriented Small Group.  Isn’t that what Jesus did? “[He] mingled with men as one who desired their good.”

As we spend time with others we will notice different projects they may have going. This is an opportunity to jump in and offer them a helping hand with their task, helping others feel less stress about what they need to accomplish.  Again Jesus showed His sympathy for others as He mingled with them.  I would call these groups Task Oriented Small Groups that continue building stronger relationships.

Of course, as we continue building those relationships, we will begin to notice different needs that our friends carry and start reaching out to meet those needs so as a small group we might run a How To Handle Stress and Stay Healthy Seminar, A Natural Cooking Seminar, or A Weight Loss Seminar.  These and other trainings and/or seminars can be held in a home with the small groups members leading and caring for individuals.  As we do this ministry our small group would be classified as a Need Oriented Small Group.

Now we are beginning to win over the confidence of our friends.  Questions are being raised about who we are and what we believe. This is where Jesus bade them, “Follow Me.”  Our Trimester Group could now easily open the Word and answer questions and share the gospel with our friends.  Daniel and Revelation Seminars can be held in our homes as well as others studies such as Jesus Our Savior, Jesus Our Lord, Last Weeks with Jesus on the Earth or the Story of Creation.  This type of group would be called a Study Oriented Group.

Trimester Small Groups do not necessarily need to meet every week throughout the year, but may have a different focus each quarter, thus taking a break between sessions.  Leadership would be different according to the nature of the group.  We will take another look at Trimester Small Groups next time and uncover other details.

So why not try a Trimester Small Group with a couple of friends and find out how exciting the adventure can be?  As a recap here are the different groups identified with the Ministry of Healing quote:

“He mingled with men as one who desired their good” – Relational Oriented Small Groups
“He showed His sympathy for them” – Task Oriented Small Groups
“He ministered to their needs” – Need Oriented Small Groups
“He won their confidence, then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” – Study Oriented Small Groups
-- by Don James

Share your thoughts about this article:

Tim Schmidt
2016-04-09 10:12 AM

This is an excellent way to reach out and touch somebody! It is a thought pattern that follows closely to SHAREHIM Groups and outreach. Every Church Plant should start a Trimester Group!

Eileen Strombom
2016-05-02 10:40 AM

Eileen Strombom
I too think this is an excellent way to reach out and touch somebody.  I have tried this and it certainly works.  It is quite simple and sometimes it doesn't even require a lot of time.  Just being there for people is something that most of them have never been on the receivng end of.  They often can't understand why you would care, but at the same time love the caring that you've displayed.  The Lord has used me to bring a few backsliders back into the church this way in the last few months.  I can see why the angels rejoice when a soul gives their life to Christ, because the thrill that I expeienced is almost overwhelming.