Frequently Asked Questions

What does the semester model look like?

One of the biggest hurdles preventing people from getting into a group is the fear of how they will get out of the group!  And since they want to avoid drama, they don’t come at all. To help relieve this tension, we ask groups to follow a semester model.  A semester will last 11 weeks in the Winter/Spring, six weeks in the Summer, and 11 weeks in the fall.  We will have a Group Launch in advance of each semester to launch new groups OR for you to add new people to your existing group.  These dates will be communicated in advance of each semester so your group can plan accordingly. Even though we suggest you follow this semester model, you have the freedom to meet when works best for you.

What do we do on the first night of our group?

Like all fun things in life–have a party! A “get to know you” coffee, dinner, or dessert party is a great way to launch a new study. You may want to review the Small Group Agreement and share the names of a few friends you can invite to join you. But most importantly, have fun before your study time begins.

Where do we find new members for our group?

 This can be troubling, especially for new groups that have only a few people or for existing groups that lose a few people along the way. We encourage you to pray with your group and then brainstorm a list of people
from work, church, your neighborhood, your children’s school, family, the gym, and so forth. Then have each group member invite several of the people on his or her list. Your group can also be listed as OPEN on the Small Groups Finder for people looking for a group.

No matter how you find members, it’s vital that you stay on the lookout for new people to join your group. All groups tend to go through healthy attrition—the result of moves, releasing new leaders, ministry opportunities, and so forth—and if the group gets too small, it could be at risk of shutting down. If you and your group stay open, you’ll be amazed at the people God sends your way. The next person just might become a friend for life. You never know!

How long will this group meet?

 It’s totally up to the group. Most groups meet weekly for at least their first study, but every other week can work as well. We strongly recommend that the group meets for the first semester on a weekly basis if at all possible. This allows for continuity, and if people miss a meeting they aren’t gone for a whole month.

At the end of this study, each group member may decide if he or she wants to continue on for another study. Some groups launch relationships for years to come and others are stepping-stones into another group experience. Either way, enjoy your time together.

What if this group is not working for us?

 You’re not alone!There are many reasons why groups don’t work.  It’s okay!  Pray for God’s direction, and at the end of the semester, decide whether to continue with this group or find another. You don’t typically buy the first car you look at or marry the first person you date, and the same goes with a group. However, don’t bail out before the semester is up—God might have something to teach you.

Who is the leader?

 Most groups have an official leader. But ideally, the group will mature and members will rotate the leadership of meetings. We have discovered that healthy groups rotate hosts/leaders and homes on a regular basis. This model ensures that all members grow, give their unique contribution, and develop their gifts. Christ has promised to be in your midst as you gather. Ultimately, God is your leader each step of the way.

How do we handle the childcare needs in our group?

 Very carefully. Seriously, this can be a sensitive issue. We suggest that you openly brainstorm solutions. You may try one option that works for a while and then adjust over time. Our favorite approach is for adults to meet in the living room and to share the cost of a babysitter (or two) who can watch the kids in a different part of the house. This way, parents don’t have to be away from their children all evening when their children are too young to be left at home. A second option is to use one home for the kids and a second home (close by or a phone call away) for the adults. A third idea is to rotate the responsibility of care for the children, either in the same home or in another home nearby. This can be an incredible blessing for kids. Finally, the most common solution is to decide that you need to have a night to invest in your spiritual lives individually or as a couple and to make your own arrangements for childcare. No matter what decision the group makes, the best approach is to dialogue openly about both the problem and the solution.