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Starting a New Year as a Group

Last night was our first small group meeting of the new year. My wife Vicki and I wanted several things to happen as we began the new year. First, we wanted to make any adjustments that we needed to to the group. Second, we wanted small group members to step up to the plate and more actively serve in small group roles. And, finally, we wanted people to leave behind sin and resentment as they started the new year. So here’s how we did the meeting. Perhaps you’ll want to use one or several of these ideas yourself in one of your first meetings of the new year.

The icebreaker: “What was a high point of the past year for you?” Very interesting and helpful to hear people’s answers. One child reported that the low point of the past year was listening to their parents’ arguments. 🙁 Children are so transparent sometimes! :-)(The parents are working on things. Their marriage is making progress but has a ways to go.)

Evaluation: I ask for suggestions from the group for the months ahead. What do people like about our group? What do we need to change? The discussion wasn’t that long but was helpful. People appreciate that our group includes the teens and kids. We talked about the need to multiply our group so that we have more kid-friendly groups in our church. Everyone wants to keep the group on Thursday evenings. We’ll also keep serving as a group in the SeniorCare nursing home ministry.

Small Group Involvement Worksheet: We passed out copies of the SG Involvement Worksheet [click on the preceding words if you want to see the worksheet] and invited people to sign up for roles or tasks that they want to try. We gave people time to fill them out and collected them right then. Every adult and teen signed up to help with at least one role or task in the group! Wow! We have new people to serve as worship leader, reporter, prayer coordinator, and kid’s ministry coordinator. Others signed up to help teach, host and bring snacks.

Forgiven and Forgiving: I explained that Communion is a wonderful thing to experience as we head into the new year because it invites us to receive God’s forgiveness anew and to forgive anyone that we are holding a grudge against. We took time in silence to let the Holy Spirit search our hearts and to bring sin and resentment to God in prayer. We took communion together and shared things that God was speaking to us. One of the teens encouraged all of us to stay open to God’s voice throughout the year not just as we start it. Then we had worship and ministry time. (The children and teens choose to stay in the meeting until ministry time. Then they headed to the basement to study and play with the Wii Fit.)

Somewhat to my surprise, based on people’s response and sharing, it appeared that the most significant part of the meeting was the emphasis on forgiving others as we enter the new year. Several people had significant hurts to release and were thankful that they could give these to God as they entered new year.

What are you doing in your group to start the new year strong? What thoughts, questions, or suggestions do you have?

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