Before Your First Group Meeting . . .

We're coming off of a hectic and exciting GroupLink weekend. Lots of new groups were launched over the last few days. Was yours one of them? If so, your group will be working through Community: Starting Well In Your Small Group, an eight-week study designed to help you start your group off on the right foot.

There are two things you need to do before you meet with your group for the first time.

  1. Read Session One in the Participant Guide (and have your group members do the same).
  2. Read the Session One Leader Notes.

Here's why these things are important . . . even if you're an experienced group leader. Community: Starting Well In Your Small Group offers a new approach to launching groups. In the earliest stages of the study's development, we asked ourselves this question:

"What are the things that new groups need to know and do during their first two months together to set the trajectory for a great two-year group experience?"

This was a huge question because it took us to unexpected places. It forced us to think about what group leaders and members expect from the eight-week starter period. One of the biggest ideas we want to convey in those early weeks of your new group is that relational connection is as important to the group experience as Bible study and prayer. That's because relational connection is the foundation for a sense of belonging in the group and that sense of belonging is the foundation for accountability among group members. Belonging and accountability then become the foundation for the care that group members experience when life goes squirrely.

If the goal of group life is that leaders and members grow in their relationships with Jesus, then knowing biblical truth is important but it isn't enough. We also have to apply biblical truth. We have to live it. That living happens in the context of relationships. Personal connection is huge in your group. But we haven't always treated it that way.

As a leader, I've traditionally kicked off my groups with a social meeting at a restaurant. Lots of group leaders do the same. But over time I began to notice a problem with that approach. Except for the people sitting immediately to my right, left, and across the table, I didn't really get to meet my group. That couple down at the other end of the table? I barely remembered their names. That's a problem when you're the one responsible for leading the group.

So in Community: Starting Well In Your Small Group, we ask you to host your first social in your home (or one of your group member's homes). We want you to begin to connect with everyone in your group. We've provided a short video and some content in the Participant Guide that casts vision for you and your group members about why relational connection matters, why just hanging out and talking and laughing isn't time wasted in the life of a Community Group. The night of your first meeting, you'll meet in a home, watch a video, and then hang out with your group. Simple, right? But different . . . and better.

Congratulations on your new group. We're deeply grateful for your willingness to invest time, energy, and emotion in leading others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We want to do everything we can to help you succeed. So before you meet with your group, check out the Session One material in the Participant Guide and Leader Guide. It's designed to help you take these first steps into community with a group of people you probably just met a couple days ago. We pray they're people that, six months or a year from now, are so important to you that you won't be able to imagine what life would be like without them.