How Long Should Small Groups Meet?

What to consider when launching a group.

"How long should we meet?" That was a key question our group of staff wives and women asked when we held our first small group meeting. We were all serving in many areas of our church and had hectic schedules but all of us sensed the need for small group nurture. Though many small groups take a hiatus during the summer months, we discovered that summer was precisely the time when most of us were free to participate in a small group. We decided summer would be our meeting time.

At our first meeting we talked about group member needs and interests and with that knowledge we were able to chart our course. You can determine the purpose of your group either prior to meeting or at your first session. Are you a grief group intended to help people through crisis situations? Are you an on-going support group for young mothers? This will help you determine if your group has a short or long-term purpose and whether the group will be continually open to new members or have periods of being closed to new members.

Member Availability. Summer months often provide a challenge to small group continuity because traditional schools break during the summer. That's when many people choose to travel. Take a poll of group members and find out how they feel about continuing through the summer. Not only do you want to determine what months your group will span, you'll also want to get a handle on how much time per meeting people are willing to put in. In some cases where people are paying for childcare or where they must rise early for work, the time investment is particularly sensitive. Agree on a start and stop time for your meetings, and then respect your member's wishes by sticking to it.

Study Material. Knowing people's time limitations can also ...

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