Regardless of when you are planning to close your group this season or if you plan to continue meeting, I am asking all groups to do what they can to transition well by planning and communicating accordingly. (See the “Off Season Ideas” list below for ideas on what to do during this time.) Clear communication not only helps people know what to expect, it often leaves people feeling respected, valued, and cared for. In other words, transiting our groups well helps reinforce that community is a positive place to find belonging, connection, and love.
While I know this can sound simple and straightforward, my experience has taught me that clarity is a key value for most people. For many people clarity promotes trust and comfort. Consequently, a lack of clarity can erode trust and comfort quite easily too. I’ve learned firsthand, more times than I like to admit, that it can be easy to feel like I have been clear as a leader and to then later learn others lacked clarity they deserved and needed. Even worse, each time I’ve quickly seen how I could have easily avoided the issue painlessly with a little more clear communication on the front end.
Along these lines, while we sometimes think negative group experiences are something that happen at the start of group season or because of some relational conflict that comes up in a group, a group transitioning or ending poorly can leave the same bitter taste about groups as having a poor experience on the front end or in the middle. I have learned that how a group transitions may largely affect a group member’s opinion on groups, and even their willingness to join another group or your group again.
I think it’s important we remember that it isn’t only hard for some people to join a group, for many people it can be hard to stay in a group. For many people, groups genuinely feel like a risky and vulnerable choice. Feeling like their leader left them hanging, in the dark, or confused about what is next in any way can trigger a spike of discomfort that makes the risk seem that much higher and less worth it.
So, while you are 100% free to choose whether you’re done leading your group, your group will break for this season, or your group plans to continue to some degree during the “off season”, I am asking all of our groups leaders to plan and communicate accordingly. Helping our groups transition well to whatever the next step or phase is, is another simple way we can do our part to help people get the most out of this group season.
For some families, the off season is a great time to keep meeting. Depending on the time of year, the lack of homework and schedules gives some families more time to connect in community. And of course, for people with grown kids or no kids, summer and other school-related schedules may not change anything for them.
Off Season Ideas
As I said above, I’m encouraging all groups who are stopping or taking a break to plan a celebration of sorts before they close.
Keep Meeting Weekly:
- Keep meeting using the weekly Discussion Guide that goes over the week’s talk.
- Keep meeting using content from RightNow Media.
- Keep meeting for casual, fun hangouts.
Keep Meeting With A Modified Plan:
- Keep meeting, but change the frequency, location or time of when you meet. Consider moving to a park, a pool, someone else’s house, or creating a rotation of sorts.
- Some groups choose to plan a service project or two during this season.
Take a Break:
While summer is a prime time for some groups to meet, it’s a hard time for others. It may make more sense to not meet week to week on a fixed schedule during the summer. Consider re-gathering sometime in late July, August or when we launch our fall groups (in September). Also, be sure to intentionally communicate that you’d love to have your current members rejoin your group when you regather. We often assume people know they can rejoin our group, but I’ve talked with many people who didn’t know it was an option to stay in the same group.
Ending Your Group:
When you signed up to lead a group you agreed to a certain commitment, so it’s completely acceptable for you to end this group season unsure of what is next or planning not to lead next season. Please just be sure to communicate this to your group so they know what to plan. Also, asking someone from your group to takeover as the group leader is another option. We have seen group leaders step down and groups continue with a new leader on many occasions. If there is a reason you’re ending your group that you either want a groups staff member to speak into or be aware of, we’d love to hear from you.