Organizing a small group can be daunting and discouraging, especially as you gaze with longing upon other great groups and wonder how yours can ever look like theirs. Building a life-changing small group doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With a little push in the right direction, you too can create a group that makes an impact. Here are 5 tips to help you build a small group you can be proud of:
1. Decide on your model: Small groups come in two main types-open or closed. In an open group, anybody can join at any point during the group’s existence and has no cap on the number of new people. An open group may start a new group once a particular number of people is reached, but nobody is turned away.
Closed small groups limit the number of participants and discourage new members or visitors while the group is meeting. A closed group generally remains closed for a period of time-maybe for the duration of a full Bible study- before welcoming others again. Once you decide on the model best for you, be sure to communicate this clearly to all your participants to prevent broken expectations down the road.
2. Pick a Path of Leadership: Many assume that building a small group is a one person job. However, a couple weeks into the role, many find themselves buried under a heap of stress and responsibility. Have you ever considered a dual leadership team? Bringing on a partner may make your dreams of a small group into a feasible possibility. With a tag-team strategy you may find half the burden is gone and another voice of encouragement speaking into your ear.
3. Select the type of small group: Some small groups form around a particular interest or activity, such as running or playing basketball or praying for a particular church. Others resolve to act as an accountability group and encourage members through struggles. Others take shape around life stages, such as a newlyweds group, single seniors, or junior high males.
4. Plan ahead: Many small groups decide to purchase and go through curriculum, such as Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God or The Organic God: Falling in Love With Jesus All Over Again or Francis Chan’s Crazy Love or Beth Moore’s study on Daniel. If your group decides to purchase curriculum, the temptation to show up without doing any prep work is strong. Setting aside time beforehand to look through the material will go a long way and will help prepare you for your upcoming meeting. Not only will you be able to anticipate some questions, but you may be able to spur thoughtful discussion.
If your group decides to forgo curriculum, you’ll need even more time to prepare for each meeting. You may be able to have a great meeting a handful of times with little prep work, but this will not give you the quality you’re hoping for long term.
5. You set the tone: Others follow and emulate what you model. If you listen to whoever is speaking with respect, others will as well. If you are willing to be vulnerable and take off your mask, you’ll find others prepared to remove theirs. If you are encouraging and speak uplifting words, others’ words will also be laced with life.
What seems the most overwhelming when you organize your small group? What advice would you pass on to help those want to build a small group they can be proud of?
Whatever study you choose, we would love to pray for you and your small group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can pray for your and your community.
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We want to introduce you to seven DVD Bible studies that small groups, Bible studies, and Sunday School classes around the country have been using to grow in their faith, knowledge of the Bible, and love of God. Email email@example.com and we’ll give you access to the complimentary DVD Sampler from Margaret Feinberg.