Our First Night of Small Groups

We had a wonderful first home Bible Study last night. Eleven adults participated, plus another ten children. And that was in spite of several Wednesday night ‘regulars’ being out of town.

Perhaps most exciting to me was that several people who came last night had not been attending a small group before. This is exactly who we aim to reach with these home groups. We hope to see a higher percentage of church members and attenders (and even unchurched people) in our small groups than what we’ve been experiencing in our traditional Sunday School or Wednesday night program — or even back in the day when we did a Sunday night service.

In this post, I’d like to just walk you through our first night, so you can get a feel for how the night unfolded, and what you might expect if you are starting your own small group.

BEFORE THE MEETING- My wife and the kids worked hard yesterday afternoon to get our living room ‘guest ready’ and our family room ‘kid ready.’ I personally invited a number of people ahead of time, then texted several families around 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon to remind them of our small group. I think this last step resulted in one or two extra families that otherwise might not have come.

WELCOME – People started arriving about 15 mins early. My wife was just getting home from shuttling the kids around to afternoon sports, so I welcomed people in and offered them something to drink (water, lemonade, coffee). We officially started around 6:45 pm. Everyone shared their name and favorite ice cream. This was a quick and fun ice breaker. Several in the group are newer to the church, and I noticed at least one person was writing down names as we went around the room. I invited everyone to really make themselves at home, move about as needed, told them where the bathroom was, etc. Then I opened in prayer.

BIBLE STUDY – I explained to everyone that we would be studying the Book of Hebrews over the next year. I asked what they knew already about Hebrews. Then I gave a handout (click here to download) and we all went to Hebrews 12:1-2 to see how the Christian life is like a marathon requiring endurance. We discussed the major theme, outline, and some interesting features of the book of Hebrews and looked at a few sample passages to whet their appetites. I also have them a copy of our 2016-2017 teaching calendar so they can read/study the next section in advance if they’d like.

GROUP DYNAMIC – The group was very informal and relaxed. We sat around the coffee table, but a couple others were at the dining room table or in the kitchen. Some folks had to get up to attend to kids, feed a baby, etc. One mom got down on the floor with her child, and kept her Bible on the edge of table. There was a little commotion at times, but I just spoke up louder and kept moving. Some people ate dinner before they came, but one family brought dinner with them and sat at the dining room table with their McDonalds cheeseburgers at the beginning. Everyone remained flexible. It was pretty special to see 80 year olds and 2 year olds present in the same room, with Bibles open and everyone talking about Jesus. I tried to keep everyone involved by asking questions, encouraging dialogue, and inviting others to read the scripture passages, and even to read some of the handout so they could hear other voices besides mine. At the same time, this was not just an open discussion or group share time. I had specific content I had prepared ahead of time, and several people were taking notes.

WRAP UP – We ended at 8 pm and dismissed with prayer. Natalie had baked brownies. Some people had to leave right away, but others lingered for another 30-45 minutes eating snacks and talking while the kids played. I think the last family left a little after 9 pm. Next time, we will take sign ups and ask other families to bring snacks so we don’t have to be responsible both for the food and getting the house ready for company.

Overall, it was a great first night and I pray you have a similar experience. To God be the glory!