I hate to break it to you, but your small group is going to end. Every small group, even the very best, is going to close someday. Jesus is no longer meeting in person here with his twelve disciples, and you are not going to do life indefinitely with the wonderful people in your current group.
How do you end your small group? How do you celebrate the cool things that God did in it? How do you bring closure?
My wife Vicki and I just closed our small group last night. I will tell you how we did it, and maybe you can glean ideas for how to best end your group when the time comes.
- Eat. We started our time together last night with a meal. Jesus also had a “last supper” in the final official meeting of his group before his death. Do a cookout. Go out to eat together at your favorite restaurant. Or, call a potluck. Families eat together, and you should definitely share food at this crucial point in your journey.
- Remember and celebrate what God has done. Usually, at a final meeting I ask people, “What is one way that God worked in your life through this group?” Last night, I asked a different question: “What is one thing that God has taught you or done in your life in the last year?” It was encouraging and instructive to hear the deep ways that God is teaching and changing each person to be more like Jesus.
- Share communion. Jesus instituted communion at his last meeting, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Small group is all about celebrating and experiencing Jesus together and communion is perfect for this. Last night we had communion and recalled and thanked Jesus for his incredible sacrifice for us, his total forgiveness, and his amazing love. (Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned well, and we didn’t have any grape juice on hand. All we had was V8 and cranberry juice. Vicki pointed out that when you read, “This is my blood shed for you,” that V8 has the wrong consistency. We went with the cranberry juice. It worked just fine.)
- Worship. We enjoyed an extended time of worship, just recalling and resting in God’s goodness.
- Minister. Our goal was that every person present would get upbuilding prayer and ministry, but we didn’t really plan it out; we hoped that it would just flow out of the worship. So after worshipping, we just sat in silence and listened. Then one person said, “I have an impression that someone has a decision to make and we should pray with them about that.” After some more silence, someone spoke up and said, “There is a decision I am struggling with. It’s not a big decision, but it’s a decision I am perplexed by and I don’t know what to do.” So we prayed for wisdom and clarity for them. Then one-by-one, everyone in turn shared a decision they were facing that they wanted prayer for. Everyone received prayer. Allow ample time for Holy Spirit-led ministry in your final meeting.
This is just one way to end a group. Maybe you want to make your last meeting more of a party and break out games or do a bonfire. There are lots of ways to bring healthy closure to a group; and this is what worked for us. I hope that by sharing how we closed our group, you will take courage to plan a good closure for your group when the time eventually comes.
However you do it, be encouraged. Jesus did cool things in your group! I know it, even though I wasn’t there, because I know he was there, and that is what he does. Maybe he changed lives deeply, maybe new leaders emerged, maybe some new people came to Christ, probably he taught and shaped you as a leader more into his character. Whatever he did, it will continue into the future, because he loves you and your members and he has awesome plans for each of you.
Your last meeting is a time to celebrate Jesus, what he has done and what he will continue to do. What ideas do you have about how to best end a small group? Share them in the comments below.