The ideal size group is somewhere around six individuals or six couples.
In terms of a mathematical equation, if you have six individuals and each person shares for about ten minutes, that will eat up an hour. If you have six couples and each person shares for about five minutes (the couple equaling ten) then that is also about an hour. I hope I didn't confuse you there, but the point is this: If you get too big of a group, you have a problem because not everybody will get to share, but if you have too small of a group, it puts more pressure on people to share for longer periods of time.
When your group is too small.
I want to talk to you about what to do if your group is too small. Let's say you have three people or three couples. You know you need to add some people, so how do you do it? The first thing you need to do is pray. Ask God who he wants in this group, then observe who he has brought to your mind. Who in your neighborhood? Who do you work with? Who do you sit next to in church? Then, you talk about it as a group.
I recommend that you don't just invite people to your group without everybody in the group being informed. You talk about who you should invite in your group, maybe share some names and brainstorm some others. Then as a group, you plot it out. You go: "All right, let's invite these people. Maybe it's that one couple, or maybe it's these three couples." You invite those people and when they come, you make a big deal out of it. Don't just slip them into the group like no big deal. This is a big deal. You want them to feel warm and welcome so that they want to come back and don’t feel rejected.
Here's what I'd recommend: On that welcoming evening, if you do it in the evening, you set aside the normal routine and you go back to square one of a brand-new group and you do icebreakers and you do name tags and you welcome the new people in it. You let them know how glad you are to have them with you and then you can ask them to officially join your group.
You might ask them in the group, "Hey, we'd like you to stay," but then ask them outside of the group, because even in that kind of setting they may go: "Oh yeah, we'll stay in the group" and later they might go: "I'm are not sure about this," but you follow-up, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, go: "Boy, we loved having you in the group. Would you please consider joining the group?" That is how you add people to your group.
*This is the fourth post in a series of 27 Tips for Small Group Leaders
BILL SEARCH is the author of Simple Small Groups. He has served in ministry for nearly 20 years. Bill loves spending time with his family, drinking great coffee, listening to jazz, and enjoying the great outdoors.
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