We talked about using a small group agreement in a recent article. One of the reasons I recommend using an agreement in a group is that it provides an easy way to begin talking about two very important values in group life. Rotating facilitators and host homes are two significant predictors of groups that thrive. Why? Groups that are dependent on a single leader and a single meeting location are always close to extinction. All it takes is the transfer of the leader or a home remodeling project to knock out a group. Much better to build the value of rotation into the mix. Here’s how to do it:
- While it’s not a bad idea to hold the first 6 meetings at a single location, it’s a good idea within the first 6 meetings to encourage as many of your members as will to sign up to host a meeting at their house in the next study. This actually has a great side benefit…it locks members into the follow up study. Since it’s been found that 6 weeks is long enough to begin to feel a sense of connection, but it takes 12 weeks to more firmly cement the connection…being locked in is a good thing.
- Start by recruiting volunteers to provide refreshments in the very first study. Simple is almost always better. Chips and salsa, a dessert of some kind, coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Be careful! Every small group has at least one very good cook, someone who loves to wow the crowd with a full meal or a really exotic dessert buffet. Again, simple is better. Don’t let elaborate become the pattern or you’ll have trouble getting everyone involved.
- Many small group study guides have a calender built in and many small group calenders already include a column for refreshment sign-up. If yours doesn’t, just make a simple calender with these columns: Date, Facilitator, Refreshments, Host Home.
- On the night that you begin talking about the next curriculum (usually about week 4 of a 6 week study) ask everyone to think about hosting a week in their home. Whoever is hosting provides the refreshments (or in the alternative, the host gets a pass).
- Provide a simple guide to hosting the meeting. Randall Neighbour has a helpful guide right here. The basic idea is to take any guesswork out of the arrangement and make hosting simple.
The temptation for many small group leaders is to make it easy and do everything themselves. Sometimes the leader feels bad asking for help. Other times they don’t feel that their members are up to the task. Because of this temptation, it is a great idea to make it a point to measure the percentage of groups that rotate host homes. Making it a measurable helps you to track whether it’s happening and also helps your leaders see that you value it.
Ideas? What are doing to encourage your groups to rotate host homes?