First meetings of ANY kind are very important. And small groups are no exception. If you are restarting your group soon, these tips will help you plan for that all-important first meeting.
Just what do you do? What patterns do you want to set? How can you make the tone welcoming and personal . . . and encourage open sharing?
Before You Start
Thinking and planning ahead will make all the difference.
- Pray! Pray! Pray! . . . for your potential group members, for new group members, for softened hearts, for open schedules. . . . And as you pray, be ready to take action as God leads you in unique ways to connect with people and prepare for your group start.
- Invite new people and remind last year’s participants. Even if you’ve asked and been turned down before, you don’t know if a person’s circumstances have changed. A personal invitation is powerful—don’t rely only on flyers or group texts/emails. Here are more Invitation Best Practices in PDF format.
- Brush up. If you have read How to Start a Q Place or gone through Q Place Coaching or our Thriving Groups Workshop, review the material. Q Place’s time-tested approach will protect the group from 95% of small group difficulties, so you want to follow it closely. If you are restarting a group, now is the best time to get back into healthy patterns. A good start is so much easier than trying to make changes later!
- Order discussion guides. If you plan to choose the most economical shipping, allow 7-10 business days for the discussion guides to reach you.
The First Meeting
Arrange seating so everyone can see each other.
Greet each person warmly. Give everyone a nametag if you have new people. Provide simple refreshments as people arrive. Have extra Bibles and a dictionary on hand for the sample study if you will be doing one.
Begin with 10-15 minutes of conversation during refreshments. You may use this time to ask a low-key, non-threatening icebreaker question to help everyone get to know each other or catch up. For example, “What is your favorite Sunday afternoon pastime and why?” If your group has not met for a season, ask, “What’s been a low and a high since we last met?” Our Breaking Small Group Ice resource (PDF format), has more icebreaker tips and questions.
Give each person a Guidelines card and take turns reading by paragraphs so that everyone knows how to participate and what is expected. Let the group ask questions or add comments as needed. It is always a good idea to refresh memories about the Guidelines whenever a group starts a new study guide or when a new person comes.
Be sure to mention:
- Refreshments. Let the group decide if they want to rotate bringing refreshments.
- Recommended Tools for Bible Study. A modern, understandable translation of the Bible, such as the New Living Translation, New Century Version, New International Version, Contemporary English Version. The YouVersion Bible App is also a good choice.
- The cost of the study guide.
- Any other “housekeeping” details. (Contact info, meeting place, next meeting’s question-asker, etc.)
If you are meeting online, apply these ideas as needed, and also check out 10 Tips for Starting an Online Group.
Many people tell me they cannot wait to start up their group after it takes a break.
Ron & Linda said: “. . . [Bible study] is such an important part of our lives now.” And even my not-yet-Christian neighbor exclaimed, “Everyone needs to study the Bible!”
Remember, a good start is much easier than trying to get back on track later!
Q Place National Field Leader
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