During the first week of small groups, people may be a little apprehensive to speak during the discussion. Make sure you go out of your way to make everyone feel welcome. Once people feel welcome and comfortable, they will be more willing to join in on the conversation and talk about things that really matter.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind for a first group meeting.
1. Let people know what to expect.
Anxiety often builds when the future is unknown. There’s an immediate calming effect that happens when people know what to expect.
Remember, not everyone in your group is an outgoing extrovert. Tell people on the front end how the small group meeting will flow. Answer questions like:
- How long will we be here?
- Where is the bathroom?
- What are we going to do?
- When will we eat?
- Where should I sit?
2. Affirm and Reaffirm.
Some people just need to know that it’s okay to talk and ask questions. You are the facilitator, so facilitate!
Affirm that there are no dumb questions, and reaffirm that the group cares for one another and desires to see one another grow.
3. Start with softball questions.
This is a great way to kick off every small group, but especially the first meeting. There will be time later on to ask the challenging and convicting questions, but before you go there, start with some easy, relational questions.
After all, small groups are about relationships. It’s about connecting people to one another.
The very first meeting of your small group should include some get to know you questions. Make it fun! Play two truths and a lie, ask interesting questions, and let people talk about themselves.
4. Connect through prayer.
A supernatural bond begins to take place when people pray with and for one another. Don’t just take prayer requests at the end. Stop and pray specifically for each need.
Let others in the group audibly hear you and others pray for them. Through our prayers, God mends our hearts together.
These are just a few tips, and I’m sure there are more. What have you found that works early on in the life of a group to build group trust?
Let me know in the comments below!