You want to start a new small group, and you have a few co-leaders and potential group members in mind. But the whole endeavor still feels vague and up-in-the-air. Time to nail some things down. Have a pre-launch meeting.
When and Where
Schedule your pre-launch meeting one week before the official start date for your new group. If you know what the schedule will be for your group meetings, try to hold the pre-launch meeting at the same time and on the same day of the week.
Similarly, if you know the location of your future group meetings, try to hold the pre-launch meeting in the same place.
What To Accomplish at a Pre-Launch Meeting
1. Set the standard for future meetings by
- arriving early,
- providing refreshments and
- listening to your group. Ask your group, “What do you hope God will accomplish in your life and in the lives of others through this group?”
2. Set a vision for the group.
Ask the group, “What you hope this group will look like six months from now, two years from now, five years from now?” Be sure to share your own answer to this question too.
Your group vision could focus on specific goals such as:
- Including people who are not yet Christians.
- Launching new groups out of your group.
- Involving at least fifteen people each week.
- Encouraging each other with prayer, fellowship activities or crisis support.
- Baptizing and discipling at least one new believer each year.
- Serving together on a mission trip or service project.
Find a goal that lights up your group. When you can tell that everyone in the room is on fire, you’ve probably found the right goal for your group. Write it down.
3. Share co-leader responsibilities.
Once your team has settled on a goal that inspires and unites you, everyone will be ready to take on individual responsibilities.
Show your group a list of co-leader responsibilities and say, “Which of these jobs would you like?”
Don’t sweat it if there are too many jobs and too few co-leaders. Each of you can take on three or four jobs at the beginning then give away those responsibilities as you add new people to your group.
Crucial: give away co-leader responsibilities even if you could do the job better yourself. When you give somebody a job, you’re not just taking a load off your own back. In fact, you could probably save time and energy by doing most of these jobs yourself. The reason you give away co-leader responsibilities is to give your group members ownership of the group and the opportunity to use their gifts.
4. Make a list of people to invite.
Ask your group, “Who should we invite to our first meeting?”
When someone calls out a name, write the name down on a sheet of paper. Next to the name, write the name of somebody present who will personally invite the person.
Don’t stop until you have a list of at least twenty-five people. New group leaders always underestimate the number of people they will have to invite and overestimate the power of a social media post advertising their group. Forget the Facebook post and focus on the personal invitation.
Once your list is complete, give a copy to each person present and tell them you’ll check in with them in three days to see how many people they have invited.
Before you move on, spend time praying for each person on the list. Pray that God will bring the people he wants and that your team will be faithful to teach, shepherd and encourage those people with faithfulness and humility.
5. Discuss the curriculum.
If you haven’t yet decided what your group will study, now is the time to ask your group what interests them.
Are you planning on doing most of the teaching or discussion leading? If so, your group will want to know what you’re most interested in teaching.
If you know what you’re going to study, now is the time to give your group information like:
- Will the study require homework?
- Will the study require group members to purchase a book?
- Will the study include lesson videos?
- How long will the study last each week?
- How many sessions will the study include?
6. Record everyone’s contact information.
Recording attendance is one of the best jobs to assign to a co-leader right away.
When it comes to contacting your group, think about these three considerations:
- Simplicity. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple and informal. No need to over-complicate things. Each week you can just pass around a sheet of paper with a date at the top and three columns: name, email, and cell phone number. Tell people, “All we need is your name unless you think we don’t have your contact information.”
- Convenience. You may prefer the convenience that comes with online group management services such as GroupMe or Facebook Groups.
- Consistency. Your church may already use a service like Planning Center Groups or Churchteams to manage group attendance and communication. If so, try to use the same system, even if it requires you to do a little on-the-job training.
When it comes to group communication, scheduling and attendance records, choose a tool that feels simple and natural to you.
Once you’ve covered all six items in the list above, lead your group in prayer and say, “I’ll see you back here next week!”