10 Tips for Starting the Fall Well

Believe it or not, summer is pretty much over. This means it’s time for a new school year and a new season of ministry at Brook Hills. Although we have lots of new groups starting this fall, most of us will be re-starting our Small Groups after a much-needed break. 
As we begin Small Groups this fall, here are some tips to make this year more impactful than last year!

1. Invite, invite, invite! That’s the theme for this year. Last year’s Info Card revealed that 45 percent of the adults in our Worship Gatherings reported they were not in a group. We all know that due to the size, Brook Hills can often feel like a mall. We don’t bother to speak to others because we’ve already got our circle of friends and making new friends in worship seems pointless because there will be new people sitting next to you the following week. 
We challenge Small Group members to invite people to their Small Groups. Focus on inviting people you meet both inside and outside of the building. Start with those already in the church, who are much more likely to attend your group.  Why not get to know people and ask them if they are in a group!
2. Review the Small Group Values– Sometimes it is good to be reminded of the things we value. Our Small Group Values document encourages members of Small Groups to be faithful in the areas of attendance, spiritual growth, prayer, welcoming, ministry, confidentiality, authenticity, multiplication, unity, and transitions. 
We encourage all Small Groups to review this during their meetings a couple of times at the beginning of each year to make sure everyone hears them. You can find the document by visiting our Leader Resources page (brookhills.org/LR) and clicking on the first link under Leadership Tools. 
3. Pray for members of your Small Group– It might work well for you to divide their names up among the days of the week and pray for specific people every day of the week. Then you can send them a text to let them know you are praying for them.
4. Develop a written ministry plan for your group– It helps to have some plans in writing. You can let your group help formulate the plan. If you’d like an example, please email me. My plan involves the categories Curriculum, Fellowship, Outreach, Missions, and more.
5. Give away some responsibility– The first job I always give away is recording and distributing prayer requests. We send those out via email. Have your Prayer Leader include your weekly challenge from the study in their email. You might also consider enlisting a fellowship leader and an outreach leader. We have also included a complete list of possible jobs on the Leader Resources page of our website.
6. Plan a get-together early– This is important if your group didn’t get the chance to stay connected during the break. People need to get connected and caught up on one another’s lives as soon as possible.
7. Connect Sunday: Communicate Well– Make sure everyone knows your group is starting back. It’s pretty easy to set up a distribution list in your email program or use the GroupMe app. You might even consider a phone call to members of your group to make sure they feel valued. Encourage them to bring a friend! (See #1)
8. Food!- Make the first week back to group a little special. Provide some food or something else to give the meeting an extra touch, and let people know there’s something special about the first meeting.
9. Be ready for new people– Have a plan for being welcoming when new people visit your group. I always take the time to have everyone in the group tell their name and something about themselves. Then I make sure during the prayer time that they know a brief backstory from previous prayer requests. We need to help them feel like an insider fast. As Josh Hunt says, the best way is to take them to lunch, and he’s right! (Josh Hunt will speak at our Small Group Leader Gathering, so make sure to mark your calendar for August 26) I also have guests complete a Guest Form so that I have their contact information. We’ll have those for you in your meeting room. You may also opt to have the guest visit brookhills.org/guest to complete the form. We’ll forward that to you.
10. Don’t stay small– Yes, we do call them small groups, but we’re realizing that our smaller groups are in more danger of dissolving when life changes such as job responsibilities, relocations, family illnesses, and many other obstacles come. This year we’ll also focus on group health and sustainability. If you have less than eight regular attendees, give some special attention to adding some people.
Let’s start strong and make this a great year of disciple-making in Small Groups!