As much as I don’t want to admit… it’s happening… again.

School supplies line the shelves of Wal-Mart. Back-to-school messages are already filling my inbox. Though I’m in complete denial, summer is coming to an abrupt close as the start of a new school year looms around the corner.

Soon families will shift gears and fall into a new rhythm. As SGLs, you’ve seen some of your kids throughout the summer but not all of them. Between family vacations, weekends away and summer festivities… you and your few haven’t been together much all summer long.

Not only that but with a new school year comes new families. As your few return for the fall, you’re guaranteed to have some new kids to integrate to the group.  What can you do to help your group pick up where you left off last May? How can you integrate the newbies with the oldies? Here are a few ideas that can help you establish a new rhythm this fall.

  1. Establish a connection. Send them a card or give them a call. Whichever action is most appropriate, reach out and contact them letting them know how excited you are to be together again as a Small Group. If the child is relatively new, introduce yourself to the parent and let them know who you are and what you love about being a SGL.
  2. Communicate expectations. When your group arrives, gather them together (if opening activities allow) and let them know you’re excited to be together. Establish some quick expectations:
    1. Everyone participates. It’s so much better when we do it together! Let your few know that you expect them to listen, engage and participate in the experience. (Have an ‘opt out’ plan in your back pocket. If a child doesn’t wish to participate, have a single option available like sitting to the side to observe.)
    2. Everyone has fun. But not at the expense of others. If actions are distracting and/or hurtful, you’ll let them know and they’ll agree to stop.
  3. Invite them back. Let them (and their parents) know how much you want to see them again soon.
    1. Don’t assume they’ll be back the next week. Invite them back.
    2. Tell them about you. Have an index card prepared with some information about you.  Things like what a Small Group Leader is, why you do it and how you hope to help their child. Provide some contact information like an email address so parents can reach out if they desire.

Help your few start the year right by establishing a connection, communicating expectations and inviting them back again.  What about you? What do you do to start a new year with your few?

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Gina is the Children’s Pastor at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping, encouraging & empowering parents for the journey of teaching their kids to love and be loved by Jesus. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges of parenting. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor.

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