By agreeing to be a group leader, you have taken on the critical task of shepherding a portion of the congregation. With prayer and proper preparation, your group will be an environment where community and discipleship coexist. Here are a few things you will need to do to help ensure the successful launch of the group in January.
Choose a location
This could be a room at the church, someone’s home, a community clubhouse, or anywhere that people can meet for one to three hours each week. Ensure it is centrally located for people in the group, and can comfortably host eight to 16 people. If your group will have families with young children, make sure the facility has enough rooms for adults and kids during the group discussion time.
Choose a day and time
The day and time will help determine who will be able to attend. If it is on Sunday morning, the group will be limited to current church attenders. If it is held during the day on a weekday, it will be limited to people with flexible work schedules. If it is later in the evening, it may be difficult for young families to attend. Think through who you want to invite to the group, and plan a schedule that fits their needs the best.
Start with the people who are in your immediate circles–friends, family and co-workers. Make a list and then personally invite each one. Here are 10 questions that a potential group member may ask.
1. How much time is this going to take?
2. What are we going to do with our children during group meetings?
3. Will there be homework? If so, how much?
4. Am I going to have to talk or can I just sit and listen during meetings?
5. Will I have to pray out loud?
6. Who else is going to be in the group?
7. How much do I have to know about the Bible?
8. How many weeks or months is the group going to last?
9. If I don’t like it, can I leave without people being angry with me?
10. What are we going to do during the meetings?
Choose a launch date that will allow your group to meet for several weeks before a possible interruption. The second or third week of January is an ideal time to launch a new group. People are back from vacations and holidays and getting back into a weekly schedule. This year, you will have a 10-week stretch to Easter Sunday with no major interruptions.
Questions to think about:
1. What is your biggest fear in starting a small group?
2. What type of location would work best for your small group?
3. Who will you invite first to your group?
4. Which potential questions from invited group members will be the most difficult to answer?
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 is also the Small Group Specialist 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 recently released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.