The air is getting cooler, the leaves are starting to turn colors, and football season is in full swing. We are also heading into the toughest season all year for small groups. Fall and winter bring a myriad of parties, vacations, and holidays. It’s tempting at this point to not fight against the busyness and just cancel group until the new year. But by the time January hits, the group has lost any kind of momentum and has to start over—or completely disband because of lost interest.
Instead of giving into the craziness, groups can work with it and have a lot of fun at the same time. Here are five things that your group can do over the next two months to maximize the opportunities:
1. Use an October group meeting to have a pumpkin carving contest.
My group started this tradition a few years ago and it was a huge hit. Just have every person (or couple) bring a pumpkin and a few carving utensils. We would always buy a couple of extra pumpkins in case someone new was invited that night. My favorite winner was a dead-on version of Walter White from the show Breaking Bad.
2. Plan a pre-Thanksgiving alternative meal.
Everyone loves to eat, and what could be better than a Mexican-themed Thanksgiving meal? The crazier the food theme, the better. They will get plenty of traditional turkey and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day.
3. Serve together at a homeless shelter or ministry on Thanksgiving morning.
There are multiple opportunities around cities to serve on Thanksgiving day. You can be done by mid-morning and ready for your family celebration by 1:00 p.m. Nothing prepares your heart for being truly thankful than serving as a group for those without.
4. Plan an early December Christmas party and then take a break.
Most parties don’t get started until the second week of December, so prepare your group now to get their ugly sweaters washed before December 1st! Don’t worry about attempting to have weekly group meetings through December. The normal rhythm of work and school parties will soon wipe out everyone’s calendars.
5. Get your first meeting in January on the calendar now.
Instead of scrambling to put something together in the whirlwind of the new year, go ahead and pick the date so that everyone can be ready for it after the festivities and relatives have disappeared. If you haven’t already picked your study for the new year, go ahead and do that before your last meeting in December. This will give everyone something to look forward to coming back in January.
Holidays do not have to kill your group’s momentum. If you get creative and plan ahead, they can give your members something to look forward to every year.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 22 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He also manages SmallGroup.com for LifeWay Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was just released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.