You only really get one chance to start your new group, and it can be hard for a group to recover from a weak start. Let’s take a look at four principles and a couple of simple tools to help you get your group launched effectively.
Invite, invite, invite.
Don’t sit back and wait for people to find you. Don’t expect a church-wide announcement to do the trick. Get on the phone and call people. Get out in the lobby and invite people. Use the Small Group Launch Plan worksheet to help you organize your launch efforts.
Start as a team.
The strongest group launches begin with a team. Assemble your team and plan to co-lead with them from the beginning. Prep every week with co-leaders, at least by phone, so you’re all going the same direction.
Let your co-leader(s) help as they feel ready. They don’t have to be fully formed leaders from the start. You will develop their ability and experience. It doesn’t have to be a large assignment. Find out what they are comfortable with and go from there. Plan to take your team through Mentor Training and Small Group Training at some point.
Leading as a team from the beginning has several advantages. It expands the pool from which to invite group members. It provide a variety of strengths and perspectives. It helps create and model a good relationship environment from the start.
Keep it simple.
Don’t make the group complicated. Newcomers don’t know what to expect. Keeping the group simple helps people not to feel intimidated. Make your teaching accessible. Keep it to the basics. Don’t go too deep or show off all your knowledge. You want new group members to feel like this is their group, and you want to create an expectation that everyone can participate.
Plan the agenda.
Decide how much time you want to spend on each element of the meeting: fellowship, lesson, prayer, planning, etc. Set a rough schedule. The Group Schedule Planner will help. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel, and the more the group will be confident in you. This is also going to help you start and end on time – which builds leadership credibility and trust.
If you’re intentional and willing to put forth the effort to follow these steps, your new group has a great chance to take off!
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Why do you think personal invitations are so important in starting a new group? What can you do if you don’t know many people?
- How is a group that starts with a leadership team stronger than a group you might start by yourself?
- Describe ways to make sure a newcomer doesn’t feel awkward or intimidated.
- Talk about the elements of a typical group meeting and how much time each one should be given.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.