If you’re starting a new group, try planning an “open house” before your first formal group meeting. Even if you have only two to four core members, it’s a great way to break the ice and to consider prayerfully who else might be open to joining you over the next few weeks. You can also use this kick-off meeting to hand out study guides, spend some time getting to know each other, discuss each person’s expectations for the group and briefly pray for each other.
A simple meal or good desserts always make a kick-off meeting more fun. After people introduce themselves and share how they ended up being at the meeting (you can play a game to see who has the wildest story), have everyone respond to a few icebreaker questions:
–   What is your favorite family vacation?
–   What is one thing you love about your church/our community?
–   What are three things about your life growing up that most people here don’t know?
Next, ask everyone to tell what he or she hopes to get out of the study. You might want to review the Small Group Agreement and talk about each person’s expectations and priorities.
Finally, set an open chair (maybe two) in the center of your group and explain that it represents someone who would enjoy or benefit from this group but who isn’t here yet. Ask people to pray about inviting someone to join the group over the next few weeks. Hand out postcards and have everyone write an invitation or two. Don’t worry about ending up with too many people; you can always have one discussion circle in the living room and another in the dining room after you watch the lesson. Each group could then report prayer requests and progress at the end of the session. You can skip this kick-off meeting if your time is limited, but you’ll experience a huge benefit if you take the time to connect with each other in this way.