I host and lead a weekly small group of people every Thursday night. We’re currently going through Donald Miller’s “Storyline” curriculum (which is amazing by the way, if you haven’t had the chance to check it out.).
The group of people that attend range from sophomores in college, professional twentysomethings, and a 47 year old who all share the same passion. Each one of us wants to create a better story for our lives. You may wonder why my small group is so amazing.
Is it because of the curriculum?
Is it because I live in a rad crib and everyone is in love with my decorating skills?
Is it the snacks that I provide?
Click the jump to find out 5 practical steps that have made my small group amazing.
As simple and obvious this step seems, the act of listening will bring people to your group. By listening I don’t mean, nodding your head, repeating the words “oh yeah?”, and somewhat making eye contact. Letting the content of the conversation go through one ear and out the other is devastating to the growth of your group. You must retain what you hear and be intentional with the information you’re gathering and use it to shape your small group.
One of the nights at Storyline, I asked the question “What’s your dream? What is one thing that you really want to do with your life?” Answers ranged from going on overseas missions trips, being President of the United States, speaking at a TED Conference, and so much more.
Along with that question, I told them about a practice I recently read about keeping pictures of your dreams. For instance, one of my dreams is to have a book in a bookstore, so I have a picture of a bookshelf in Barns and Nobles because one day I want my book to be there.
I made a mental check of everyone’s dreams, and set out that week to gather pictures that represented aspects of each of their dreams. After collecting all the photos, I went to Wal-Mart and printed off some 4×6 photos, framed them, and presented them to the group at the next gathering.
Their reaction was my gift.
Their faces were priceless, as they understood the meaning behind the picture in the frame. Listening and actually acting on that is powerful.
2. Handwritten Notes.
I’m a huge believer in handwritten notes. Let it be known, my handwriting sucks and a lot of times is not legible. However, that doesn’t stop me from writing notes of encouragement to each member of the small group. The letters don’t have to take long, just a quick note saying “Hey, I love you. I’m here for you. Thanks for being a part of this community we are creating.” is enough to change someone’s day and make them feel appreciated and loved.
Every small group needs to have some kind of a tasty treat to keep people coming back. Now, this does not mean a full fledged dinner by any means. Chips and salsa will suffice, accompanied with water, tea or soda.
Food connects us.
Even in the Bible, community happened while eating together. Having snacks helps break the ice and tension, especially during the first couple of meetings.
4. Connecting outside of weekly meetings
You should not be connecting with your small group only on the night you meet. Connect during the rest of the week as well. Our group actually created a private Facebook group where we can post prayer requests, news updates etc. Don’t over think it, when it comes to planning events outside of the normal meeting time. Hanging out a coffee shop is simple and cheap, but can easily be just as fun as going to a hockey game.
5. Inviting them to be a part of a bigger story.
This is key. We aren’t just a small group. We’re a group of people who want to live life as an adventure. Everyone has the longing that their life is meant to be more than what it is. That’s exactly how we advertise our group. We’re made for more, and we are going to help each other along the journey. Painting the picture that the group is just a study doesn’t work anymore.
People want to be a part of something bigger.
Remember, it’s about creating healthy relationships. Instead of just trying to plug people into a group, it should be helping people become creative in their journey. The point of small groups isn’t to create new best friends. These people all ready have relationships outside this group. The purpose of a small group is to help people grow over a short amount of time and if along the way they make new relationships great!
Are you a part of a small group? What works for your group?