Keys to Success
Your First Meeting
Plan your first meeting to be an “ice breaker.” Demonstrate hospitality. Make plans for food and fellowship. Make it a time where people can get acquainted. Then share what your plans are for the Life Group and ask them to agree on the following…
- ATTENDANCE: Make the group a priority on your calendar for the duration of the Life Group session.
- SAFE HARBOR: Make the group a safe harbor for people to share so everyone feels celebrated.
- CONFIDENTIALITY: Any issue that arises in the group should stay in the group.
- ENCOURAGEMENT: Share and encourage others from your own relationship with God and life experiences.
- OWNERSHIP: Share responsibilities to make the Life Group a success, like bringing food, inviting someone, and praying for each other.
When you are hosting a group here are some important things to consider.
- ATMOSPHERE: Prepare a clean, fresh smelling, warm and comfortable environment with proper lighting that is free of distractions. Comfortable chairs and seating arrangements with some refreshments makes people relax and feel at home. Put yourself in your guest’s shoes and ask yourself, “What would it take for me to feel completely comfortable in someone else’s home?”
- HIGH TOUCH: Make it a priority to get to know everyone in your group. Quality time spent building these relationships will maximize your ability to invest in them spiritually. As much as possible, recognize what is going on in the lives of your group members. Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, or other special days. Check in on them. Be aware of the needs of your group members. If you know that one of your people is moving, expecting a child, or mourning the death of a family member, rally your group together to support them.
- CONSISTENCY: When you plan your meeting schedules try not to cancel any meetings. Cancelations will hinder your ability to build any momentum from previous meetings. Be sure you communicate with members with the appropriate means. Find out the best way to communicate: phone, text, email (using InFellowship), twitter, etc. Don’t assume everyone communicates the same way you do. A personal phone call is always best!
Welcoming New Members
You should always be prepared to welcome and incorporate anyone that decides to join your group. People will come and go. It’s not always going to be a reflection of your leadership. Lead your group with the same passion and energy, whether you have one member or a dozen.
Remember that your new group member is walking into a brand new setting for the very first time. It may be their first experience with a small group. Make every effort to bridge the gap and make them feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Have the entire group participate in some sort of icebreaker. Engage the new members in the discussion. Do a quick review of the group discussion.
If this is someone’s first experience with your group, your goal should be to see them for a second time. Don’t just invite them back. Assign someone in your group to specifically follow-up with them over the course of the week.
We hope that you will enjoy the dynamics that come with leading a small group. As you build new friendships new opportunities to help people grow in their walk with Jesus will arise. As a Life Group Leader, your emphasis is to provide a safe environment where people can feel free to open up and share. Availability, consistency, and a sincere interest must first be demonstrated. These factors play a major role in developing trust. Trust is the key that will open the doors for you to lead others. Often, people will get answers to their own problems from the Holy Spirit as a result of honest and open sharing. What you need to succeed is…
- A close relationship with Jesus and the Word of God.
- A desire to encourage others, especially new believers.
- The ability to relate well with others.
- Effective listening skills.
- The ability to maintain a level of confidentiality.
Life Group leaders should maintain confidentiality concerning any matter an individual brings to them or the group for prayer and encouragement. A leader should refer to the Life Group Pastor anyone in crisis they feel that they cannot help.
Leading Dynamic Discussions
Here are a few tips in facilitating discussions in a small group setting. Whether you’re keeping up with Pastor’s weekly sermons, or exploring different topics throughout the Bible, you will need to focus on the following areas in order to effectively facilitate discussion in your group.
- BE PREPARED: Be the most prepared person in the room. As the leader, make sure you know the material and have prayed over your group before you meet.
- SET A GOAL: Set a distinct goal for each group meeting. Steer the discussion and help your group land at an appropriate goal that challenges them to grow with each meeting. Even if you don’t reach the goals you originally set out to accomplish, make sure you communicate a clear goal for your next group meeting. Clearly communicate your expectations for the entire group.
- PROMOTE SHARING: Set boundaries for your discussion. Encourage group participation in the discussion by asking open ended questions about the topic. Stay away from “Yes” or “No” questions. Ask broad questions first, and then more narrow questions.
- RECAP: Recap what you talked about during your last meeting and connect it to what you’re discussing during your current meeting. Whether you’re following a sermon series or conducting your own Bible study, continuity is essential. If you’ve done a good job setting the tone, being clear with your group, and steering the discussion towards your goals, your group should end with a take away. Use this to determine where your group will pick up from during your next meeting.
Every group is going to have different personalities that may make facilitating a discussion a challenge. Here are some examples to be prepared for.
- THE TALKER: Set clear expectations about group participation. Be assertive. Don’t be afraid to address your group during the discussion by reminding them that this topic should be important to more than just one or two people. Even if you have to address the talkative members individually after the discussion time, your assertiveness will set the tone for the rest of the group.
- THE QUIET ONE: Be patient with the quiet ones. Ease them into the discussion. Connect with them individually. When they do talk, praise their contributions. Validate their contribution will encourage greater involvement in the future.
- THE TROUBLEMAKER: Hopefully, you will never need to address conflict in your group. But in case a conflict does arise, remember that conflict is rarely addressed too early, but is usually addressed too late. Don’t assume that everything will work itself out over time. Address conflict before it has a chance to affect the rest of your group. Always lead with grace. Condemnation will always paint people into a corner of defensiveness. Ask questions that put the ball in their court. This will foster a more constructive, collaborative discussion aimed towards finding the right solution. You’re not in this by yourself. If you ever need guidance on how to handle a situation, let us know. The health of your group is very important to us!
Promoting Your Group With Social Media
Facebook is a great way to spread the news about your Life Group. Start posting, sharing, tagging, and commenting to your Facebook page. Encourage others in the group to do the same. Telling stories and sharing pictures about your group is great way to invite others to join! Make sure your Facebook activity reflects your witness for Christ!
- One option available to you is Facebook’s Group feature. When creating a Facebook Group, use your Life Group name as the Group Name, add your current Life Group members, and determine the Privacy option that’s best for your group. Use the Facebook help page at https://www.facebook.com/help/and then select POPULAR FEATURES then GROUPS.
Twitter is also a great way to share about your Life Group! Use the Twitter hashtag function (ex: #nameofgroup) to share what’s happening in your Life Group. For help on using twitter go to https://support.twitter.com.