Part 6 – Sending and Launch
It is finally time to launch your new small group! The hard work you have put in “pre-plant” stages is very important for the foundation of the group and is not to be neglected. These steps will go a long way to helping cultivate healthy small group life as you continue to gather and live life together. With this being said, let’s talk about the first meeting for the small group.
The first meeting for a small group is a crucial time. We actually have guidelines for the first two meetings our small groups have. Summary for this time: Greet & Eat, Pray, and let each person get to know each other. Less is more and we ask leaders to talk for 15 minutes or less. After your first meeting, we ask that you follow up (call, email, write a letter) with each person to express how glad you are he/she came, to ask if he/she had any questions, and to get to know them better. One thing I want to express is, do not be discouraged by the first meeting. It takes a small group anywhere from 6 to 9 months to really become a small group with good, life on life relationships.
During your first meeting, remember that not everyone is going to be as excited as you are (yet). Invite those that are at the first meeting to commit to the short time frame of 6 to 8 weeks. Tell them that will be the length of the first study y’all do together as a group. After the study, the people will have a respectable way to decide they are no longer interested in the small group. Almost always a small group that makes it to 6 weeks will continue meeting for the next year and go on to plant new groups!
After the first 6 weeks, there is the temptation to just keep going and not acknowledge the purpose and goals of the small group. The group will continue to meet without the goal in mind. If there is no recognition of the purpose and goals, the group will slowly drift away from being an intentional bible-based, disciple-making community and will become an unstructured collection of inwardly focused friends detached from church life.
As a group leader, casting vision for purpose and goals can be very helpful because what we aim for is what will most likely get. Consider discussing the purpose and goals of the group every 2 to 4 weeks. Let each person evaluate how the group is doing in the goals and purpose of the group about every 3 months. Ask your small groups coach or staff at your church to help you put together goals for your group if you need to.