People today have a strong desire to belong to a group. You see it in children, teenagers, and yes even adults. One of the most powerful aspects a small group or Sunday School can offer to someone is the opportunity to belong. Belonging is more than just identifying with a group. Belonging goes past being included. In your group, belonging should be identified with being craved. The people in your group should feel that the group looks forward to seeing them and engaging with them.
Okay, all well and good… but how do you create this sense of belonging. Here are a few thoughts:
- Every person in the group should receive a phone call every week from someone in the group. When someone initiates contact with you, it communicates that they want to be part of your life;
- Plan times for the group to get together frequently outside of the usual group meeting;
- Plan spontaneous times together. Decide to go eat together after church;
- Mix things up. Occasionally, move things around in the room so that people have to sit in different places, helping them get to meet other people in the group;
But above everything else, the leader has to model belonging. Some thoughts:
- Make sure that you speak personally to everyone in your group each time your group gets together;
- Remember! When a group member mentions a prayer request about something they will be dealing with, call them during the week and ask how they are doing. The simple fact that you, the leader, remembered and took the time to check on them means a lot… a whole lot!
- Send notes;
- Invite the new people to do some things. We tend to rely on the folks we know best, but the action of asking a new person to help or do something connects that person to the group. You also elevate the value of new people to your group;
Action item: Make a list of five things that you can do in the coming week to help connect people in your group and communicate that they belong. Get as many done as you can this week.