CGD Small Group Leaders Guide

Welcome! And thank you for your bravery/naivety in volunteering to lead a group! Below are all the resources needed to run a successful group, tested in battle with real people in multiple groups. Remember, you don’t have to be a great game developer to run a group; you simply provide accountability and allow space for people to interact with the information and each other with the occasional prompting to stay on topic.

What Does it Mean to Lead a CGD Small Group?

Leading a CGD small group is a very fulfilling experience, and is easier than you may think. As a small group leader, you do not have to teach the other members; the curriculum is designed to be the source of knowledge for each group. In most ways, you will be participating in the small group experience just as much as the other members!

The primary responsibilities for a small group leader are to:

  • Clearly set the expectations that are common across all small groups

  • Model meeting the expectations

  • Hold others accountable to meeting the expectations to maintain the integrity of the group

  • Facilitate the discussions each meeting

  • Nurture an environment where small group members can connect and feel included

Regarding the last point, members who feel connected to and included in their small group will be much more likely to keep attending and engage in the curriculum, in turn helping the group stay strong throughout the season. There are many ways you can nurture this: you can welcome your group members every meeting, encourage positive feedback on parts of their project that they share (constructive feedback should only be given if they explicitly ask for it), directly ask quieter members about their thoughts about a particular homework question, and be vulnerable in your prayer requests (e.g. everyone needs prayer for work; what else can you share about your prayer request that makes it personal?). Small group members will engage with each other as deeply as the leader is willing to.

Also, between meetings you can engage with your small group over chat, such as on Facebook Messenger or Discord. If you use Facebook Messenger, we suggest you add all your members to a new “message” and then give the “message” a name so it is easy for your group to identify that group conversation amidst their other conversations on Messenger. If you use Discord, the CGD small group coordinator can work with you to create a channel on the “CGDC Coms” Discord server that will be visible only to your group members. You are also free to use other means of keeping in touch between meetings in whatever way works best for your group.

Recruiting a Group

It is very important you limit the group size to five members, including yourself. Groups with six or more in the past ended up being too many. With each additional person, it reduces the amount of talk time and interaction per person, which allows dominant people to dominate more and quieter people to hide more. The smaller the group the less swing in either direction. Also, it’s one more schedule to have to coordinate around, potentially with time zone implications.

To assist with this, the CGD small group coordinator will work with you to find group members that would be a good fit in terms of interests and schedules.

Membership Criteria

The group is designed for a game developer, artist, musician, writer, etc. actively and regularly working on a game or game-related project they plan to release publicly.

That is the only criteria.

What is not important:

  • Where they are in the process (pre-production, production, ramping up to release); anyone at any time is welcome.

  • Previous experience is not necessary. The 101 curriculum is designed with first timers in mind.

What about these kinds of people?

  • Someone who has worked on a game or game-related project but isn’t right now due to life situation (new baby, school, job).

    • Encourage them to focus on their life situation and tell them that there will be a group for them to join when they are ready.

  • Someone who is regularly working on a game as a pet project, portfolio piece, or tech demo. They aren’t really serious about releasing it for others to play

    • Save them and you time; they can join a group when they want to make a game for more than themselves. Most of the material won’t be valuable to them anyway.

Maintain the purity of the group! It is very important to limit members only to those who meet this qualification. Why?

Think of the alternative: A group has two members: Alice who is serious about making her game, she recently left her job to pursue game dev and is spending her life savings on graphics, voice actors, and meager living expenses. At some point her runway will run out and she will sick or swim. Then there is Bob, still in school, undeclared major. He really enjoys talking about game dev because he is going to make a game… one day. Bob has nothing on the line and isn’t going anywhere. But he sure likes hanging out and talking as if he does!

Not only is unfair to diminish Alice’s time and interaction with the group to make space for Bob, but Bob’s contributions are downright wrong. He’s a travel agent to a land he’s never visited.

Leading Well

Set clear expectations up front and be consistent. People will rise to the occasion or drop out. Either way is a win.

It is important homework is completed by members before meeting. While this could seem draconian or people will complain, it maintains the integrity of the group. For instance: The first week only four of five members do the homework. Besides one person not being able to speak intelligently about the material, it is a test of the leader everyone awaits to see what will happen. If you let it slide, the following weeks only three, only two, only one person will complete the homework.

People do what is expected of them. Period. For the value of those who are there to really learn, you must maintain high standards for everyone. Feedback from members of groups that fell apart point to a lack of discipline about homework as the key cause.

The discipline policy should be:

  1. Appreciate the honesty of the person admitting they didn’t do the homework.

  2. Acknowledge they have failed to meet their commitment to themselves and the group. It’s important everyone hear you do this.

  3. Tell them this is their one warning, next time they will simply have to leave the group. They can join a small group when they have more time to put towards it.

Experience has shown someone who is corrected for missing homework once won’t miss it again, or if not corrected will always treat it as optional.

Sign a Covenant

It sounds ridiculous to actually go through the process of having every person read and sign a covenant, but it really works. We humans like to “dip a toe” into things; we join but we don’t really join. The covenant helps the person come face to face and commit to the group and the exercises. Human nature is that people treat something they sign more seriously than something they say.

The CGD small group coordinator will provide you with a covenant document to send to your group to sign and return to you. When you receive them, you can send them to the small group coordinator to confirm that those members are committed to your group and its members for the season. If one of your group members does not prioritize returning the covenant or does not want to sign one, then perhaps now is not the best time for them to be a part of a small group.

What’s the downside to having everyone do a covenant? We can’t think of any.

Have a “Time Cop”

To be respectful of everyone’s time, it is important to stick to the agreed upon agenda and end time (agendas are provided for each lesson, adjust them as you see fit). This only happens if someone is assigned as time cop. Their job is to set a timer for each section of the agenda and warn when the time is running low. This helps keep things moving smoothly.

Frequency of Meetings

Originally, CGD small groups all met once a month. However, feedback received said that this was too infrequent. More recent groups met every two weeks, and this seemed to be the right rhythm for people to really connect. That said, you can decide what frequency works best for your group and work with the small group coordinator to adjust your curriculum as needed.

If a member knows ahead of time that they will not be able to attend one of the meetings, it would be best to reschedule so that you can honor the covenant they signed to be a part of this small group.

The Small Group Meeting

If your group is meeting bi-weekly the CGD small group should meet for 1.5 hours, and if meeting monthly the meeting should be for 2 hours. The leader’s version of the small group curriculum that will be provided to you has each meeting’s suggested agenda, time limit for each item, and suggested questions for discussion, and you can decide what will work best for your particular small group based on frequency and group size. Once you make your timing adjustments, have your “time cop” hold the group to those times.

As for how to get your group together to meet, the preferred method is using a video conferencing room provided by CGD. Each room would have a unique URL for your group, does not need members to create an account to participate, and only requires members to download a browser extension to share their screen. Beyond being a place for the small group to meet each time, it can be used by small group members between meetings for getting together one-on-one as desired to discuss or collaborate on their projects.

Pray!

One thing that costs little but pays out big is to pray for your group. Pray that God will awaken or strengthen a calling in each of them to become more than they began the year with.

Final Logistics

We’d love to be able to keep up-to-date with how your group is going throughout the season. When you work with your CGD small group members to determine the meeting cadence, let the CGD small group coordinator know what was decided. Also, within a few days after each of your meetings, please check in by sending an email about who was able to attend, who was missing, and if someone new has joined your group.

Have Questions or Need Help?

Feel free to reach out to the CGD small group coordinator for any reason. They are here to equip and support you as small group leaders, and can assist with questions, issues, and concerns regarding your small group.

The CGD small group leader is Matt Colón, and can be reached at matthew.j.colon -at- gmail -dot- com.