For most small groups, the summer is just a different time. Some groups take breaks for the summer months. Others change their meeting schedules to accommodate graduations and vacations. Regardless how your group has been approaching the summer season, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll transition back into the fall season. Here are four tips to get you started:
Every year brings new challenges and new schedules. Recognize that this new season is an opportunity to adjust the way your group has been meeting. Mondays may not be the best meeting day for everyone anymore. It’s possible that all of your kids are old enough that you won’t need to arrange for childcare. It’s likely that some people will drop out of your group while others will join. Your group is much more than its meeting day, location, curriculum, or childcare. As you look to the fall, don’t assume everything will be the same as it was. Anticipate changes and start to dream about the new ways your group can engage with one another and experience Jesus this season.
The weeks leading up to a new season provide a great chance to check in with each person from your group. This can be as simple as a phone call or a quick conversation before/after a weekend service. Contacting each member directly rather than sending a group text or email communicates the love and care you have for them individually and the value that they bring to the group. This is especially true if you’re coming out of a summer break and haven’t contacted your group for some time.
Set a date
If you’ve contacted everyone and it seems like the same meeting time and location is still the best option, your first gathering of the season may just be the kick off of your regular meeting schedule for the season. If you’re having a hard time getting everyone on the same page, and it looks like your group will have to make some adjustments, start with a single date on the calendar. Gather as many people from your group as can come and make a plan for the season. Make it fun by throwing a BBQ or dessert potluck and giving everyone a chance to give their input. By doing this, you’ll avoid accommodating everyone’s schedules and needs over phone, email, or facebook. You’ll also gain buy-in from your group as they have the opportunity to speak into the plans for the season.
Each fall, I hear from a number of group leaders: “I’m not sure if our group is meeting this season. We just don’t have enough people.” My response is always encouraging those leaders to build their group the same way they did when they first began. Invite neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Look for people sitting alone at a weekend service and ask if they’ve found a group. Fall is a season of beginnings. Utilize that momentum to build your group and give more people a space to be known and cared for.