For the last couple of years, we’ve been meeting together for the first few weeks of our small groups launch. Here’s a little of the strategy behind it:
We build up our leadership team
Each night starts with food, discussion and training. It is easily one of my favorite parts of the week! Years ago, I used to host “steak-outs” and grill up steak for my team each month, this gives us a chance to meet together and talk, laugh, share and grow together each week. If you try this, just make sure a) the food is good and b) what you’re meeting about is worth it since you’re asking for an extra hour of their week.
The “next step” from the weekend is much easier
I love it that we can say, “just show up on Tuesday or Wednesday here in the same place and we’ll get you in a small group.” Instead of having to get out the GPS, try to find a home and the pain of walking through the door as a stranger for the first time – they can arrive at a place where they are already comfortable, make some friends and take the next step in our discipleship process.
We establish the expectations together
We ask a lot of our volunteers and students in small groups – and by starting the year together we can model and demonstrate higher expectations. For students, being all together means we’re asking them to be quiet because of other groups, and respectful of others. For leaders, we train and expect reporting, promotion of the ‘next step’ and communication.
It gives us a chance to model different types of cirriculum
The first week was “get to know you” type of night – but the next four weeks all model different types of material they can choose to use in the small group year. This week we’re using a NOOMA video and asking them to discuss/teach around video, and we’ve also done topical, expositional and book studies during our time together.
Last year was the first time we even had the space to experiment with something like this (with the opening of the Refinery) and we met together for 10 weeks. This year, we’ve reduced it to 5 and it feels much better, we love homes and you can start to feel the pull a few weeks in. Next year, I’m thinking about somewhere between 3-5 weeks of meeting together before we move into homes, or maybe asking freshman groups to meet a bit longer than the veteran groups.
Either way, we find this time super valuable, and you might, too. Always up for an experiment!