No, I’m not going anywhere! In your small group silly! Sometimes we get it in our heads that when we join a small group we are in it for life. For some it works that way, not out of obligation, but out of a deep sense of belonging and intimacy. There are just some people you will be stuck to for life and sometimes it works out that some of those people have been and continue to be in your small group. But, for the vast majority, life goes on. Groups don’t always gel like that. So how do we say goodbye to a group?
At our church we define clear on and off ramps in the beginning. It is easy to get in a group and easy to get out of one. We define those periods in segment runs. We advertise when new groups are starting and when the session ends so that people can easily move into a group and easily move out with the expectation that some will not return after the session is over. This gives people a safe way out of a group without too much pain and guilt. Why would anyone not want to be in a group? Well, there are a few reasons. Some people just don’t want to do it. Unfortunately, I can’t make them. But, this gives them an opportunity to try without being stuck. There are some who have community already built into their lives and don’t really need another outlet. Whatever the reason is, we want to give people an opportunity to get out if they need to. Sometimes it just takes some time to find the right fit. It is hard to build this kind of attitude into a small group system. It is very beneficial when people can move in and out of groups, not just for selfish reasons, but so they can experience real, authentic community that helps them grow. When groups understand that purpose, they are happy that people are finding their place to grow.