Preparing the first small group meeting is a crucial task for any small group leader. Group members are often unfamiliar with each other, and it’s important to help everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Here are 10 ideas to help you start well.
1. Personally contact every potential group member before the meeting.
If you see them regularly (at church, work, in class, etc.), seek them out individually to have a friendly conversation. Remind them of the group and tell them you are looking forward to seeing them. If you won’t see them ahead of time, a phone call is more effective than a note. Send everyone an email or text the day before to remind them of the time and location.
2. Prepare a welcoming environment.
Think about the room, the time, the lighting, seating, snacks and so on.
3. Be there early to welcome everyone and introduce people to each other.
Work hard to remember each person’s name.
4. Be enthusiastic, regardless of the turnout.
If only one or two people come, remain positive and ask them if they know of anyone else who might be interested. Tell them you are really looking forward to the Bible study.
5. Choose content that will meet the needs of the group and can be covered in a short time.
Be sure it’s noncontroversial and easy to teach. You may want to spend most of the time getting to know one another. You could discuss biblical community or biblical principles for growing in faith.
6. Choose an icebreaker.
Prepare an activity that helps people get to know each other and will work well regardless of how many people turn out.
7. Make a detailed schedule.
Give yourself extra time for flexibility so you can end on time. You don’t want the first group to run long. Here’s a sample schedule for your first meeting:
- Introduce yourself. Be personable and real. (5 minutes)
- Pray. You do it. Keep it short. (1 minute)
- Have the group members introduce themselves. (5 minutes)
- Icebreaker. (20 minutes)
- Communicate the purpose of your group time and discuss group norms (confidentiality, respect, etc.). (5 minutes)
- Content. (15 minutes)
- Introduce future material and cover details. (5 minutes)
- Pray. Do it yourself or ask for a volunteer. (1 minute)
8. Don’t put people on the spot.
Don’t ask for their testimonies or make them pray out loud.
9. Be real.
Share some of your own spiritual journey with the group and your ups and downs along the way. Don’t try to impress them with your spirituality or knowledge of theology.
10. Encourage people to come each week.
Talk about how regular attendance allows everyone to develop a sense of unity.
After Your First Group Meeting
- Thank God for your group and the meeting.
- Try to see or talk with each member at least once before the next meeting to get to know them better and get feedback. For the first few weeks, send a reminder a day before the meeting.