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The First Meeting

My wife and I are planting a new small group and after all of the invitations, scheduling, praying and planning, last night we had our first gathering as a new SummitLIFE group. Now, I would launch into a post about how excited I am about this group, and I could take up 6 mouse scroll downs doing it. But instead I think there is merit to reflecting on everything that is happening, seen and unseen, in your first small group meeting. Maybe you have never led a group before, and now it is 5:45pm and people you have only met through email and MAYBE talked to on the phone are about to show up in your home? WHOA! The nerves, I dont care how old you are, are definitely there in some fashion. Here is why: You want this to be awesome. You want to experience the “biblical community” that you hear about in church and read about in the scriptures. Yet you are nervous because between nothing and biblical community sits your first small group meeting. In some ways I think it even feels a little like a first date. My last first date was when I was 15, but still, last night I felt a little bit of that “I hope they like me” feeling in my gut. Here are some principles that guided how I planned my first small group meeting.

  • Connect before you meet. This is not possible in all situations, but where possible make a point to connect to each person you have invited before your actual first meeting. This way no one comes to your group meeting without knowing at least one face. Just like at a party you were invited to by a friend, it helps to know someone coming into it. Be that person where possible. This isn’t hard, just set up a time to meet after a sunday service for a couple of minutes.
  • PRAY!! this one should be first. Be encouraged, there is nothing you can do to make these people become a group “knit together” as the scriptures say. God has to do that. So before you list out the 1000 tricks to try to make a group trust, love, encourage, and challenge one another, ask God that He would infuse your group with the unity that characterized the early church.
  • LESS IS MORE. The actual “discussion” time I planned for our group last night was about 5 to 10 minutes long. And my part was only 5 of that. The evening was spent hanging out and just getting to know one another. All I did was read Acts 2:42 and shared briefly my desire to see this group, in time, become the church described in that verse. Then I asked each person to share a little of what they were hoping to get out of the group. And that was really it for the programmed part.
  • FOOD! This one is easy. Have food. it breaks silence and gives people something to do. Plus, people are just more likely to talk over food. I dont know what it is, but its true.

Last night was a success. Was there awkward silence? SURE! Am I panicking? not so much. every group of people who are together for more than 7 minutes experiences awkward silence in conversation. So hey, good luck in your first meeting! Go get em!!

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