For some individuals, joining a small group may be a huge commitment. While some may be new believers who have just been plugged in to your group, others may have waited years before finally trying out “the small group thing.” For folks who are experiencing the small group experience for the first time, your efforts of communicating with them could significantly impact their understanding of how small groups operate and function. By consistently staying in touch with your members during the lifespan of your group, you can help them get the most out of the group while at the same time setting yourself (and even your future small groups) up for success.
Before the Small Group
Before the start of your group, effective communication with your group members will accomplish 3 things: first, it will cover various administrative details, such as group expectations, content overview, group calendar, and other small details; second, it will help establish your preferred method of contact, should they have any questions; and third, it will communicate your willingness to personally connect with each of your group members. By reaching out directly to each person that expresses interest in your group, the small group experience starts with relationship right from the start. By the time of your first meeting, you will have already gotten to know your group members a little and possibly even built a little rapport with them.
During the Small Group
In today’s age we’re all busy. With such busyness comes the chance that a group member may get distracted or forget that your group is meeting (especially if your group meets less frequently). Staying in touch with your members will benefit the group in a few ways: first, it will allow for the group to feel more connected during the week (especially through group texts and/or group emails); second, it will increase the likelihood that an individual will remember to attend the group’s meeting that week; and third, it will establish a dependable system through which group members will expect to receive updates from you (possibly lessening the number of simple information-based questions that are sent your way throughout the week). To help create a cadence, weekly emails can be used to communicate important administrative information pertaining to the group (i.e. calendar changes, content development, handouts, etc.). Group texts can be used as well and can be reserved more so for weekly devotionals, prayer requests, funny messages, or other pieces of information that need to be shared quickly. If the schedule permits, connecting individually with each member throughout the span of the group can help increase the level of connection between you and your members and offer more checkpoints for accountability as you mentor them.
After the Small Group
When the group completes is goals or is no longer working towards completing its goals (See our post on group formation here), then it is helpful for a group to officially end when it is the right time. Yet even when a group is ending, it is important for its members to take the time to celebrate and officially end the group. To assist, the group leader can arrange for a mixer, a meal, or a fun event that brings everyone together to reflect on the successes of the group. During this final gathering (and perhaps even the weeks that follow), it is an opportune time for you to promote the next steps that may be available for your group members (whether it be joining your next small group or a different group that better suits their current spiritual season). If your small group ministry is large enough, entertain the idea of sending out a church-wide survey to all participating small group members to gather feedback and discover what elements of the small group ministry can be improved upon. In the end, the goal is to help build a mindset within the culture of the church that spiritual growth occurs not only on Sundays, but also Monday-Saturday, 52 weeks a year.
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