When Should Our Group Open to New Members?

A healthy part of group life is adding new members to your group. Most groups will lose members over time. If you don’t add new members occasionally, then your group might just stop entirely. If your group isn’t normally open to new members, there are some key times to consider opening your group.
The start of a new year is a great time to open your group to new members. Folks who have been thinking about joining a small group get that extra nudge of New Year’s resolution fever that just might direct them to your group. (The Fall when everyone is returning to church after Summer break is also a good time). If you plan a 6-8 week study that will begin in January, it’s the perfect opportunity for those leaning toward joining a group to jump in. Please understand that your new group members will need regular reminders about the group meetings, since they are developing a new habit. But, in time, it will become a regular part of their lives.
The start of a new study is also a great time to open your group to members. While some groups have never met a stranger, other groups want to know who they can count on from week to week. There is a natural flow to accepting new members at the beginning of the study, then “closing” the group for the remainder of the study.
The start of a new group is obviously a great time to add new members. If you or a member of your group feels ready to step out and start a new group, the New Year provides a great opportunity to connect with new group members. New members really thrive in new groups. We always need new groups. Maybe you’re just tired of your current group. There is no more noble reason to leave a group than to start a new group. Nobody can blame you for that.
The New Year is also a great time to meet prospective group members at a Small Group Sampler. A Sampler is simply an informal gathering where prospective small group members can meet small group leaders and their groups. In a large room or concourse, arrange tables according to the type of small group (Men’s, Women’s, Couples’, Singles, etc.) Each group decorates their table and provides a little food to sample. Groups should also provide some information about their group: where and when they meet, their next study and so forth. Prospective members visit the tables and check out groups that they’re interested in. For the best results, have prospective members sign up for a 6-week trial of the group on the spot rather than creating general lists for follow-up.
If your group has been together for a while, and you don’t regularly advertise your group, I would put you in the category of “invitation only.” There’s nothing wrong with that. Rather than hanging out your shingle for whosoever will, you can simply ask your group members who they know that would enjoy or benefit from your next study.
There is no right or wrong way to add new members to your group. The best way to prepare is to give new members a warm welcome and an open heart. If you lead an established group, there will be a brief adjustment period, but after a little while everyone will feel at home.

Should Our Group Take a Break for the Holidays?

Should Our Group Take a Break for the Holidays?

By Allen White
The season that starts with Thanksgiving and goes through New Year’s Day is pretty intense for most of us. (Or does the season start at Halloween now?) Office parties, family gatherings, school functions, church services, shopping, shopping, shopping, cooking, cooking, cooking – boy, the list goes on. With all of this activity going on, should your group take a break? Well, a lot depends on your group. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Ask your group. While some people feel that they can barely come up for air during the holidays, others might experience a great deal of loneliness. Even though it’s a busy time, most people are still working every day and going about their daily routine. Before you decide to cancel, see what your group wants to do. If there are three or four who would like to meet, then you might consider meeting. Please note, however, that if your schedule has gone berserk, then it might be good to take a break for your own sake. But, make sure that your group is taken care of. Will someone spend Thanksgiving alone? Maybe a group member could include them in a family gathering.
2. Have a party. There is a healthy ebb and flow to small groups. Most groups can complete a study or two during the months of August through November, then will start again in January. Your group is not “more spiritual” by persisting in an inductive Bible study through the holidays. But, there is more to group that study. Having just completed a study or two in the Fall, your group has something to celebrate. Throw a party. This might even be a good time to invite prospective members and neighbors to check out the group and possibly join for your next study.
3. Serve together as a group. The holiday season offers many opportunities to serve the underprivileged in the community. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens and children’s homes have a great deal of needs, especially during the holidays. While many groups and organizations will help during the Christmas season, the reality is that these groups have needs year-round. Christmas is a great time to introduce your group to serving together. If they are interested, then plan to serve on a regular basis.
4. Give your group the next step. Some groups continue to meet during the holidays. That’s perfectly okay. Some groups decide to take a break. Some groups will follow one of the suggestions above. Whatever your group chooses to do, you will want to announce to your group when you will start again in January. They need to know that there is a next step. Announce your start date and maybe even your new study.

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