If you started a new group at January's GroupLink, the end of your eight-week starter period is fast approaching. In the final week of the study, you'll discuss, fill out, and sign the Group Agreement. The agreement isn't a binding contract. It's not a document you turn in to the church so we can file it away and refer to it later. It's just a way for you to make sure that everyone in your group understands what to expect and is on board.
You may think walking your group through the Group Agreement will be a little awkward. You may even consider skipping Session 8. Don't do it. The first two groups I led, we didn't use the agreement. If I could go back in time, I'd do things differently. Once I began using the agreement, the quality of my groups improved . . . big time. That's because this simple document, and the discussions that went along with it, aligned everyone's expectations. If there were people in the group who thought they were signing on for wall-to-wall Bible study, the agreement set them straight. If there were people in the group who expected lots of social interaction and just a tiny bit of Bible study and prayer, the agreement set them straight, too. The Group Agreement didn't guarantee that all of my groups were great (nothing can do that), but it ensured that my groups didn't derail because people were frustrated by unmet expectations.
We designed Community: Starting Well to get everyone in your group on the same page about what the group is and what it isn't. By now, you've shared stories, explored the building blocks of spiritual growth, and discussed what everyone in the group needs to know and do to create community. The Group Agreement is the last piece in the puzzle. It's designed to solidify in everyone's minds a lot of the things you've already talked about as a group.
Before you lead your group through Session 8, review the elements of the Group Agreement. Print a copy of the agreement for every person or couple in your group.
During the session, you'll watch a video in which John will walk you through two key elements of the agreement:
- Multiplication in the Values and Goals section
- The closed group information in item 5 of the Group Guidelines section
If there are other aspects of the Group Agreement you want to discuss with your group members, go for it. John just covers multiplication and closed groups because they're really important and they can cause confusion . . . especially for new leaders.
Congratulations on reaching the end of the eight-week starter period. I hope Starting Well has set you up for a great group experience over the next year or two.
Have you used the Group Agreement in past groups you've led? How did it work for you?