This is part 6 of a blog series called Leading a Small Group.
When someone signs up for a small group how long are they signing up for?
In my experience there is no clarity in terms of the length of the group. The assumption could be made that you are in this group till death or return. What results is that the group slowly dies out with people awkwardly dropping out and leaving a leader feeling like a failure.
I am a big proponent of putting a start date on a group and an end date. It may not work in every context, but it has worked in ours.
An end date allows us:
- to avoid the natural dead periods of summer and Thanksgiving/Christmas
- create momentum for sign ups and a launch period
- provide training to leaders that can be immediately implemented
- give an easier entry point for people trying a group for the first time
If you were joining a group for the first time would you rather have no idea how long it would last or commit for 3 months? You can’t cover this the first week either. As they are looking into your group communicate the time frame from the start.
In addition to time let them know how involved this group is going to be. If they are going to be required to do reading or complete a workbook let them know well in advance. Also be clear about your expectations as to how deep you want the group to go. This isn’t something that is easily controlled but if you want to set a high bar of depth by sharing the details of your Beanie Baby addiction you’ll have some empty chairs the next week.
One final thing about commitment: frequency. Meeting every other week is convenient but in my experience every other week groups are simply not as successful as weekly groups.
Be up front. No surprises.