When couples are involved in a group, they learn how to grow in their most important relationships. Therefore, we want to help them get the most from their experience by helping you become an effective host. Below are tips, arranged by topic, to help you make your small-group a time of encouragement and community.

Time

  • Each session is formatted to be completed in 45-90 minutes, but we recommend planning at least 90 minutes to allow for refreshments and fellowship.
  • Studies typically consist of six to eight sessions. We suggest meeting weekly to keep the topic fresh in the minds of your group members and to stay connected as a community.
  • If most people in your group do not know each other, consider relaxing, having fun, and getting comfortable with each other for an evening before starting the study the next week.

Leading

Hosting a group does not necessarily mean you also have to be the discussion leader. However, if you are, very little preparation is required because each study has Leader’s Notes that provide tips and suggestions for each session.

Who to invite

Four to seven couples or individuals have proven to make the best group size for a study. Having more makes it difficult to build community and can be less personal.  If you do not have an established group of couples, consider inviting:

  • Couples who are new to your church
  • Couples from your community or neighborhood
  • Couples who are recently married or struggling in their marriage
  • Co-workers
  • Single parents (for parenting studies)

How to invite them

  • Use promotion and communication channels that are available through church (e.g. bulletin, announcements, newsletter, Web site, online networking).
  • Make personal contact and follow up with a written invitation or confirmation.  
  • If you have space in your group, ask other members to invite someone they know from church, their work place, or community.

Child care

This is a common challenge for small groups. You want to ensure couples can participate with minimal distractions. With that in mind, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Ask each couple to take responsibility for their own child care.
  • Hire childcare and keep the children in one location, possibly in a separate from where you are meeting.
  • If someone from the group has a child old enough to watch kids, ask them to watch the children as a ministry or split the cost to pay them.
  • Make sure the entire groups knows the child-care arrangements in plenty of time before the meeting.

Environment

  • Pray for each couple coming by name before they arrive.
  • Create an environment that is comfortable to people. What they hear, see, and experience when they walk through the door affects how safe and nurtured they feel.
  • Having refreshments before the study helps people relax and enjoy conversation. If you can’t provide refreshments every week, considering having everyone in the group take turns bringing them.
  • Provide comfortable seating for all members of the group. Ideally, arrange the seating so everyone can face each other and feel like part of the discussion.