By the Watermark Community Team
Bang! The starting gun goes off, and your new community group is off and running! For a few hundred singles who are about to finish up our Summer GroupLink, this will be their situation in just a couple of weeks.
Whether you’re about to kick off a new GroupLink group, or you’ve formed your own new group organically, starting strong is important! It helps to build momentum quickly, and sets you up well to “run with perseverance the race marked out for [you]” (Hebrews 12:1b).
Here are a few ways to get your new group up to speed and running strong:
1. Start social.
The best way to start your community group is to get to know each other in a relaxed social setting. When you get together for the first time, grab dinner or do something else fun, so that you can enjoy each other’s company and break the ice before you get into serious study or accountability. A huge key to successful long-term community is having a lot of fun together, and starting this way puts a priority on fellowship. If you’re new to town and have no idea of what to do in Dallas, here are some ideas to get you started!
2. Get on the same page.
Our last community blog post encouraged each group to set some basic expectations for one another, such as keeping discussions confidential, and showing up on time. It’s important to establish things like this, but your group needs to be on the same page for some deeper things as well.
We call this “aligning expectations”, and doing this well at the start of your group will help you avoid a bunch of potential misunderstandings and confusion later. It will be a topic covered more fully in our upcoming kickoff event for new GroupLink groups, but you should all be on the same page for things like:
What will our meeting time look like? What will we be studying, and how much outside prep should we do?
How much time should we expect to spend together during the week outside of group time?
How will we approach accountability?
3. Don’t be “That Guy” or “That Girl.”
We’ve seen a lot of successful community groups, but there are some that struggle to get going, usually for similar reasons. To start strong, it’s really important to avoid certain things that detract from building community. We’d encourage you to not be “That Guy” or “That Girl” who:
Only shares surface-level stuff.
Doesn’t back up opinions with Scripture.
Is disengaged during group time.
Only interacts with the group during scheduled times.
4. Make growth a priority.
To grow together as a community group, it takes work! Each person in the group needs to make growing together a priority. Here are some things that will kick-start your growth as a group, and keep it going for the long haul:
Plan a getaway or retreat in the first couple of months. These are powerful bonding experiences that really get relationships going.
Share candidly what God is teaching you every week.
Pray for each other consistently throughout the week, and let people know that you’re praying for them.
Find ways to share ownership of the group, so that everyone feels like they are playing an important part.
Our team is praying for your as your new group gets started! We’re so excited for you to start experiencing the blessing and growth that comes from living together in authentic biblical community.
Photo at top courtesy of Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53370644@N06/4975884671/