Consulting and Coaching for Small Group Ministries

Category: Leader Tips

Give Your Group a Great Start in 2008!

Ready to think about helping your small group have a better experience in 2008?  It’s that time again!  Time for all good groups to get going! And get going on the right foot.

There are several important keys to getting off to a great start in the new year.  First, if you didn’t already set a date to get back together, do that today!  Doesn’t mean you have to meet this week, or even next. Just means that you need to set a date and get the word out.  The sooner the better!

Second, make sure your first meeting has a little bit of a party feel. Food is very important.  This is an opportunity to get everyone involved in bringing something.  In fact, making sure that every member is responsible for something helps ensure that they’ll all be there. Much less likely to miss the meeting if they’re bringing the guacamole!  Do it however you’d like.  Make it a theme night (Mexican, Italian, hamburgers or dessert) or keep it simple and make it “bring your favorite dish to share,” just make sure that you get all of your members on board to bring something.

Third, take advantage of the time around the dinner table to help your group talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve done over holidays.  A few really helpful starter questions are:

  • What was the most memorable thing that happened?
  • What was the biggest disappointment?
  • What are you looking forward to in 2008?

Don’t miss the fact that some of your members have had a tougher holiday experience than others. Be on the lookout for opportunities to stop and pray for anyone that shares something that calls for prayer. Also, if you’re ready to kick-start the conversation it will make it easier for everyone to jump in!

Fourth, as you begin 2008 it is a great time to renew your group agreement. You’ll find small group agreements (or covenants) in the appendix of many studies today. Taking some time to walk through one with your group will give everyone a chance to refresh their commitment to the group values and the simple basics that make groups healthy.  Be sure and check out The Power of a Small Group Agreement for more on this idea.

Last, especially if you’re preparing to launch a new study, this can be a great chance to invite a few unconnected friends to join the group! Many people have already resolved that this is going to be the year that they work on building a few new relationships. Why not help them take the first step!

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.

The Power of a Small Group Agreement

Ever play on a winning team?  Participate in a group that really came together and was somehow better together than any sum of the individuals ought to have been?  There’s something about that, isn’t there?  The whole concept of stacking hands and agreeing that in order to be the best we’re going to have to do it a certain way.

Here’s the thing…in the same way that team had had a way of doing things, your group can too. In fact, you do have a way…even if you don’t know it; even if you didn’t plan it!

Why not take advantage of the beginning of a new year to get your group talking about what’s next? And there’s no better way to do that than to pull out a small group agreement or covenant and talk through your hopes for the new year.

What should you talk about? Two basic ideas:

  • What are your values?
  • What are your expectations?

What Are Our Values?

When you’re working through the values of your group, we suggest that you talk about the following values:

  • Group Attendance: Even if my boss offers tickets to the big game, I know the group meeting has priority.
  • Safe Environment: Our members will feel loved and heard because there won’t be quick answers, snap judgments, or simple fixes.
  • Confidentiality: Obvious…but necessary. What happens in the group stays in the group.
  • Spiritual Health: The goal is not just attendance! It’s that over time we’d become more like Christ.
  • Inviting People: It’s not just us! We’ll be on the lookout for ways to include new people when appropriate.
  • Shared Ownership: Good groups involve the whole group in the action. Rotating facilitators, moving the meeting different group member’s homes, allowing everyone to play a role…these things predict a better group.
  • Spiritual Partners: No getting a round it, if there are more than three of us the path to growth comes through pairing up for accountability and encouragement. It may be a new practice…but it is a healthy one.

You may arrive at additional values.  There’s no magic list.  The key is to spend some time working on this if you want your group to be healthy.

What Are Our Expectations?

This is simpler…but just as important. These are the basic ingredients of our small group life.

  • When will we meet?  Not just the day but the time that we start and stop.  Agreeing on this is a big detail.  It allows our group to honor the value of group attendance.
  • What will we do about the kids?  Figuring out a childcare solution is an important key.
  • What will we eat?  It may not be all about the food, but agreeing on what we’ll eat can keep us on the right track.
  • Will we attend the same service?  Hanging out together, outside the meeting, goes a long way.

When Should You Have This Discussion?

When is the best time to have this discussion?  If you’re a new group there’s no time like the beginning.  It’ll get you off to a great start.  If you’ve been around for a while without an agreement you may want to ease into it.  Using a study that incorporates an agreement can provide the easiest first step.

Whether you’re brand new and want to get off to a great start or you’ve been around and need a little boost, a small group agreement can be a powerful tool for spiritual growth.  Why not take advantage of the season and put one to work?

Looking for a good resource that includes a small group agreement? Creating Community could be just the ticket.

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.