God creates environments first. In the book of Genesis, God creates the skies before He creates the birds, He creates the seas before the fish, He creates the land before the animals and He created the garden for Adam to live in.
Small groups are all about people, but just as the Lord did, we should also think through the kind of environment we’re bringing them into as well.
The great thing about small groups is that they can happen in multiple environments. Small groups can meet in churches, homes, apartments, offices, and restaurants. No matter what the location, you want to make sure it’s accommodating or it won’t be a positive group experience. Ideally your meeting wouldn’t have too little space for attendees or too much noise and distractions.
Here are 5 Keys To An Irresistible Small Group Environment…
1. Cleanliness. Try to walk into your space with fresh observations. Does the room look like it’s in order? Are there any unique smells or odors that might not be appealing? As a visitor, would you be okay sitting down on the chairs and/or furniture?
2. Circle of Seats. Forgive me for being obvious here, but I’d rather not assume anything. I have actually visited small groups in homes where the chairs were set up in rows. If you’re leading a question-oriented small group where you want people to participate and interact with each other, a circle is much more personal than rows.
3. Atmosphere. Anything you can do to create a warm and inviting impression when people enter can make your group more enjoyable. The options here may vary depending on your location, but the two items I employ the most are some tasty snacks and upbeat Christian music.
4. Finish Prepping 15 Minutes In Advance. Most people show up a little after your advertised starting time but there’s always a few that arrive early. When that first person shows up to your group, you don’t want to be running around, moving chairs, vacuuming and looking for salsa. Rather, your goal should be to have all of your attention available to those who are entering, ESPECIALLY if it’s someone who’s attending for the first time.
5. No Isolation. I usually allow the first 15-20 minutes of my small group to simply be fellowship. This time is just as important as the Bible Study and prayer. As the leader, I will always glance over the room to make sure nobody is sitting or standing by themselves. If someone is alone, I will either go over myself or I’ll ask one of my Assistant Leaders to head over and engage them in conversation. In my opinion, if somebody attends my small group and feels disconnected, I have failed.
I know that I’ve just added more items on your small group leader to-do list, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can always ask Assistant Leaders for “assistance” and over time, these things will become almost instinctive as you develop good habits.
I am personally thankful for small groups because they consistently motivate me to clean my house more than I would if nobody was coming over at all 🙂
CC Image • Lizrary on Flickr