The beginning of a new year brings a new season of small groups and bible studies. It’s like the start of school for adults. First small group meetings are filled with anticipation and a bit of apprehension.
Women show up for many reasons. Some were encouraged by their pastor to get involved and take that next step. Others have this deep longing to make friends, build community. For the first 40 years of my life I attended 3 churches. I experienced deep community and looked forward to seeing my friends each Sunday. After 15 years, I moved away from the church I called home. I was a little broken, a little lost and like the Israelites, I wandered for many years. I visited many awesome churches but didn’t stop long enough to put down roots and build relationships.
One Sunday, three years ago I knew I was home. I had found my place. I couldn’t wait to get to church on Sunday. Time passed, I was still loved my church but had no friends, lacked community and wasn’t serving. I had joined a small group, but many of them didn’t attend my church. My heart longed for connection. I craved community and friendship at my church.
Many women joining studies and small groups this month will share that feeling. The longing to see someone in the halls of the church and say hi. To have a conversation and share a cup of coffee. Without that, leaving church on a Sunday, can be the loneliest time of the week.
Prepping For Your First Small Group Meeting
They have taken that first step they have signed up and now they are thinking:
- Who will be in my group?
- Will I make a connection?
- Will I be accepted?
- Whose house am I going into?
- What was I thinking?
Maybe as a first time leader you are thinking the same thing. “I just agreed to have 8 perfect strangers come over to my house.” Take a deep breath, it is going to be ok. It is exciting, when we step out in faith. We are opening the doors to God and saying
Here are some ways you and I can prepare our hearts and home to create a space for our group.
Pray Over Your Small Group
Pray for your group in the days and weeks before you begin. Ask God to bring you people hungry for Jesus and community. Tell him your hopes and dreams for the group and then give it all over to him.
Pray for the group by name. As the time gets closer and you find out who will be in your group pray for each member of the group.
Pray for the group to bond.We have all been in groups where it didn’t gel or some of the group did, while others felt left out.
Pray that God would bless your group, that people would connect. Ask that He would equip you to lead the group. Ask for wisdom, that He would direct your path. Pray for protection for your group.
Creating A Space For Your Small Group
Think about little ways you can make your guests feel welcome.
- Pitcher of water or lemonade
- Coffee is always good but maybe a decaf option
- Snack of fruit, nuts, cheese or chips to munch on while you talk
- Something sweet
- Mason jar of pens and pencils
- Extra Bible
The Awkward First Talk
As a leader you have the opportunity to set the tone and pace of the meeting. Start by sharing a little about yourself and how God led you to start this group. Invite everyone to share how they came to the group.
Ideas for ice breakers:
- Share 3 things about yourself we wouldn’t know
- Favorite summer vacation
- If I have 30 minutes to myself I…
- Favorite place to have lunch
Cast The Vision
Cast the big picture. What is your church’s vision. Ours is to:
- Make Friends
- Love Jesus
- Make a Difference
Talk about what the group will be doing. This puts people at ease. We want to know where we are going.
Discuss what the regular sessions will be like and share any special dates. Invite people to contribute by bringing a snack or dessert, have someone make a list of everyone’s emails and share with the group. These little acts draw people in and make them feel like they are contributing to the group.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
End the first night by sharing a prayer request. Keep this simple – one way we can pray you this week.
How do you prepare for your small group? I’d love to hear from you! Share in the comments below.