It happens. You get to the end of the eight-week starter period and some of the people in your group decide not to continue. What do you do? If you have a committed core of as few as five individuals or four couples, you can continue on as a group. They'll need to be committed, though, because groups that small can't survive spotty attendance.
But what do you when your group shrinks to below those minimum numbers or if the remaining members aren't committed enough to form a strong community?
Here are five things.
- Don't take it personally. People leave groups for all sorts of reasons. They experience a job change. They don't think a commitment to group fits their current season of life. They move to a different area of town. The chemistry of the group isn't right for them. It's rare that someone leaves a group because of how it's led. Even though it's tempting to beat yourself up over someone's decision to leave your group, give yourself some grace.
- Be intentional about how you communicate to the rest of your group. If someone decides not to continue with the group, they'll probably contact you directly, either by phone or email, outside of the group meeting. It's important that you communicate the person's decision to the rest of the group in a way that is respectful to the person who decided to leave and helpful to the group as a whole. Lean into the Session 8 notes in the Community: Leader Guide. They provide guidance.
- End the group quickly. Consider the number of people left in your group and how regularly they attend group meetings. If you know maintaining group momentum will be difficult, it's better to make the decision as the group's leader to end it than to let it drag on and eventually fall apart. Ending a group after the eight-week starter period is never pleasant, but doing so quickly creates a better experience for everyone—especially first-time members—than letting it slowly fizzle out over the course of weeks or months.
- Plan what's next. Not all groups work out. If yours doesn't, that isn't an indication that you should give up on leadership or community. It may be six months until the next GroupLink, but you can always join or lead an Access Group in the meantime.
- Talk to your Groups Director. Whatever you're thinking or feeling about your group experience, it's a great idea to connect with your director. He or she will be able to give you the perspective, encouragement, and wisdom you need to move forward.
Has one of your groups ever fallen apart despite your best efforts as a leader? What did you do?