Fall is a great time to launch a new small group, or relaunch one that has taken a break for the summer. Most people will be settling back into their life rhythms by Labor Day. Summer vacations are an Instagram memory, schools have welcomed students back, and new families have relocated into your community. In order to take advantage of this opportunity to invite people into biblical community, there are a few questions you should be asking right now. Here are four important ones:
- Where will this group be located?
You have many choices of where your group can be located, and each one will help shape what type of group it will be. A natural choice would be in someone’s home. This type of group will quickly foster community because of the familiarity already established in a home. Sitting on a couch in someone’s living room will invite a more intimate conversation than most other locations.
Another location choice could be a room at the church. This location will help the group lean more into the Bible study than quickly building community. Classrooms have an underlying culture of learning, so that type of environment will naturally shape the group meetings.
- Who will we invite?
After the location has been determined, it’s time to make a potential invite list. That list would include family members, neighbors, and coworkers—the people you may already do aspects of life with. After you have that initial list, broaden it to people just outside your inner circle—maybe someone you talk with at church who doesn’t seem to be connected to a small group, or someone you’re friendly with at work. There may also be a neighbor you wave at as you pass who could be open to an invitation. Most people are longing for deeper community, but don’t know where to start.
- What will we study?
A healthy small group is more than just a Bible study, but having a good study puts God and His Word at the center of it from the beginning. After you have determined who will be in the group, look for an initial Bible study that will speak to the spiritual and life stages of most of the members. For example, if it’s a group with mostly young families, choose a study on biblical marriage or parenting. If the group is mainly comprised of young professionals, choose a study about helping make wise life and career choices. After the group has been together for a season, you can establish a discipleship curriculum pathway that helps push members out of the spiritual comfort zones.
- Where will we serve?
A small group can become insulated and unhealthy if it doesn’t look to make a difference outside of the meeting walls. It should be established from the first meeting that the group will look for serving opportunities for everyone to participate in. A good place to start is to look for needs within the community where the group meets. A school that needs back-to-school supplies. A local firehouse that could use baked goods for appreciation. A single mom’s yard that needs mowed every couple of weeks. You can also check with your church leadership about local organizations to partner with periodically.
Asking and answering these four questions at the beginning of the group will help your group launch–or relaunch–get off in the right direction.
Chris Surratt (@ChrisSurratt) is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience. He served on church staffs prior to becoming the discipleship and small groups specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of Leading Small Groups: How to Gather, Launch, Lead, and Multiply Your Small Group. You can follow his blog at ChrisSurratt.com.