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Timing My Small Group Meeting

I want to blog about timing a small group meeting.

A 90-MINUTE SMALL GROUP MEETING
I like a 90-minute small group meeting. Most group meetings that go longer than that are too long. (I think young adult groups can go longer perhaps. You young guys and gals maybe have more time.) You can do a great group in 90 minutes and it’s easier to end on a high note if you don’t go too long. It also allows more time to hang out together afterwards and some of the coolest stuff—relationship-building—happens after the meeting’s over.

It is interesting to me that many of the churches overseas with tens of thousands of groups—churches like Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, and International Charismatic Mission in Bogota, Columbia—actually do one-hour group meetings.

So tonight at my small group meeting I discreetly looked at the clock so I could report our timing to you.

6:52PM, ARRIVAL
We got to small group at 6:52. Our host always has free coffee and lemonade ready ahead of time. People gathered as always in the kitchen.

7:04PM, “ICEBREAKER! ICEBREAKER!”
At 7:04, I yelled to the kids who were mostly in the basement, “It’s time for the icebreaker.” It was cool to hear them yell to each other, “Icebreaker! Icebreaker!” They scrambled up the stairs and into the family room. A fire was glowing in the fireplace at one end of the room and the dog was curled up on her bed at the opposite end.

7:12 PM, STUDY BEGINS IN LIVING ROOM
At 7:12 we prayed a blessing on the kids and the adults moved to the living room because we need a DVD player for what we are doing now. I like a study of 25-30 minutes followed by LOTS of ministry, but this evening we were doing a session on “How to Handle Teen Anger” and it took us till 8:17 to cover it well. It’s okay for the study to go long sometimes, but you don’t want that to happen consistently. I actually had things pretty intentionally timed this evening. We’ll break next week’s video into two sessions and leave ample time for ministry for those two meetings.

8:17PM, WORSHIP
Our worship leader led two great worship songs: “Everlasting God” and “In the Secret.” At 8:26 we started praying about the things we had talked about that night.

8:30PM, AMEN!
At 8:30 I said, “Amen!” We did it! Group was over by 8:30 again. I was anxious to move back to the kitchen to enjoy the fresh brownies that someone had brought, but the hostess wanted to talk about two more things. First off, she wanted the group to discuss who else we should be inviting to small group. (Is she a cool hostess or what!?) We talked about several people different ones of us could invite. She also wanted to plan something fun. It looks like we’ll do a Superbowl party.

8:37PM, BROWNIES & PRAYER
I reminded the group that there were fresh brownies in the kitchen and managed to move us onto that important agenda item. Everyone, including kids and teens, converged in the kitchen. Ice cream also appeared. I had another cup of decaf coffee with the dessert. One of the teens of the host family was sick. We laid hands on her and prayed for her.

8:57PM, “LET’S GO”
At 8:57, I said, “Let’s go and let this family get to bed.” Before 9:01 everyone was out the door. People, especially the hosts, appreciate it if you end on time and leave on time.

TIMING YOUR GROUP
What have you learned about timing your own small group meeting? What suggestions do you have for others for keeping things on track?

How are things going now? Are your meetings timed well or are they going too long? What’s one thing you want to change or you want to try to time things better?

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3 Responses to Timing My Small Group Meeting

  1. Roger Sodsod January 25, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    I tend to put the time for fellowship in the middle.  Because we have little kids, we start at 6:30pm and end at 8:30pm.  We do an icebreaker (10-15 min), then the study (25-30 min).  Then we’ll break for snacks for about 10 min (but sometimes it goes 15.)  Then we gather back in the living room for worship (5-15 min, depending on the stage the SG is in), then we do ministry (20-30 min)–again the length of which depends on the stage the SG is in.  If it’s a relatively new group (esp. w/ new Xians or seekers), I’ll spend more time on the icebreaker, and I’ll spend more evenings doing fun things (one of the most effective I’ve found is Guesstures; you divide the group into two teams to play.)  But as the group grows in Christ together, the proportions of course change and we eventually spend more time glorifying God through worship and ministering to one another in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  Oh, and I usually lead the group about 2-3 months, and then I’ll start having everyone else lead the various parts of the meeting.  Just my two-cents.  Not anything you didn’t already know Jim!    🙂

  2. David Kueker January 25, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    I seem to remember Ralph Neighbour once suggesting to have the refreshments first.  I did that once for a series of meetings and it worked very well.  It functioned both as the Icebreaker as everyone was visiting, built a great communal feeling before the study time and served as a buffer for anyone who was late.  My task oriented nature is work first, dessert later, but I was surprised at how quickly my conviction that this would not work was overturned.  And there never was a problem getting people to assemble as a group – and I’m sure I was more interesting if people had their coffee first.

  3. Paul January 26, 2008 at 11:50 am #

    Seems like if you say dinner starts at 6:15, people (including those bringing the food) will show up at 6:15 and then start preparing the food, and dinner doesn’t really start until like 20 or 30 minutes after that. This pattern will continue until you point it out to people and encourage them to come earlier.Bathroom break after the discussion is always good. That’s definitely one thing i appreciated about Roger’s group.The past few groups i’ve been a part of have seemed to go pretty late. Not entirely sure why. Maybe i should try timing things like you did.Sometimes we have desert during the break right after the discussion and other times we have it at the very end.Young adult hosts probably don’t care as much if people stay late either… and/or might want to go out and play ultimate frisbee with people afterwards until early hours of the morning.

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