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Skill Training: Help Your New Groups Have a Great First Meeting

You know what they say.  “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.”  If that’s true it makes a lot of sense to help your new groups have a great first meeting.  Here are some key steps:

Preparing for Your First Meeting

  1. Call your group members early in the week at a time when they’ll likely be home.  Don’t just leave a voice mail message.  At this stage, personal contact is critical.
  2. Enlist someone to help you make the calls.  Increased buy-in is important.
  3. Ask each person to bring something (cokes, chips, etc.).  This cements their attendance.  They’re much more likely to show if you’re depending on them.
  4. When you call them your enthusiasm is very important.  Get yourself ready to call.
  5. Make a map to your house and send this out a week ahead of time.

First Meeting

  1. Recruit another member of two to be there early and help greet people at the door.
  2. Have name tags and markers ready at the door.
  3. Start your group off with an informal “meet and greet” session.  The agenda for this meeting is all about helping people feel relaxed and comfortable with the other members of their new group.
  4. Arrange for an uninterrupted session (i.e., childcare needs, food prepared in advance, etc.).
  5. Discuss the group agreement.  This is an important step.  Don’t miss it.  This can be done at the “meet and greet” or at the next meeting (when anyone new joins the group later the covenant should be reviewed).
  6. Set a date and place for the next meeting before you dismiss.

Meeting Follow-up

  1. Call or touch base with each person who attended the meeting to encourage them.  This extra step helps them to continue to forge a relationship with you.  Look for them at church.  Any contact in between meetings will help cement them to their new group.
  2. Call all of your new group members a couple days before your next meeting.  Don’t assume that they’ll remember.  They need your encouragement.

By the way, I’ve made this form available at Small Group Connections and Host Orientations for years.  It’s a helpful reminder to include in new leader packets.  You can download a copy right here.

Looking for other skill training ideas?  Take a look at my article, the Top 10 Essential Small Group Leader Skills

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.