3 Things That Are Different About the New Starter Study

 Photo by  Nirav Insomniac  on  Unsplash

Starting a new group? We've got a brand new study to help you kick things off on the right foot. It's called Circle Up.

Just like the old Community: Starting Well study, Circle Up is focused on aligning group member expectations. That's because misaligned expectations is one of the most common causes of groups either imploding or exploding. Nothing causes irritation and hard feelings in group like some of the people thinking they're at a Bible study, while others are focused more on relationships. Circle Up is designed to make sure everyone in the group is on the same path, and agrees with the direction you're headed. It's designed to make your leadership of the group easier.

So why did we create a new study, then? What's different? Here are three key differences between Community and Circle Up.

1. Length
Circle Up is a 4-part study. That's half the length of Community. Why the change? Well, we originally designed Community around the strategy of giving group members 8 weeks to try out the group before committing to a 12- to 24-month group cycle. We've shortened that starter period to 4 weeks because we've learned that it doesn't take group members 8 meetings to decide if they want to continue with a particular group. Four is plenty for them to make a decision, and for us to cover the most important things a group needs to know and do at the outset.

2. Ownership
In the past, we've asked group members to do three things: Show Up, Join In, and Be Real. We're still asking them to do those three things. But we also want them to understand that the group is owned by all of of its members. It's not up to the leader to do all of the heavy lifting. A leader is a guide, who is responsible for making sure the group is heading in the right direction. But strong relationships won't form unless everyone in the group is committed to making it work. So, Circle Up has a stronger call of action for group members than Community did.

3. "Stories"
Telling your stories was one of the key features of Community—in fact, it was arguably the central purpose of that study and it took weeks to accomplish. We've changed that up because some groups were taking as long as 16 weeks to complete Community because of the length and depth of personal storytelling.

We still want you to get to know one another, but that kind of breadth of sharing at the very beginning of a group isn't as helpful as focusing on key people, places, or events that have shaped each group member. Plus, "telling your story" can be weird and intimidating for someone who hasn't been in a group before. In response to all of that, Circle Up asks each group member to spend 7 to 10 minutes talking about some key formational moments in their lives—not their deepest, darkest secrets, but also not surface-level stuff like where they grew up and went to school, or where they currently work. We don't even call the new approach "telling your story" because of how odd that is in just about any environment outside of group.

Now, don't worry. You'll still get to know group members better. We're just not expecting them to put it all out there in the first month of group. Instead, it'll happen more organically, through conversations and shared experiences.

So, that's it—three big changes in the new starter study. If you want to check out Circle Up in more detail, you can find it on the Anthology app or web site: