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14 Hints for Helping a New Group Grow Together

One of the biggest hurdles a new small group faces is getting acquainted with one another. Keeping the following thoughts in mind, and trying to put them into action can help pull a group together more quickly:

1. Everyone’s name should be known by everyone. 
2. People will usually talk about their family and their job. 
3. Everybody has a soap-box, let them get on it every so often with no consequences. 
4. Talking about the different places you’ve lived is a great way to tell your life story. 
5. A simple way to get to know each other: Tell your favorite vacation story. 
6. Some people love to talk about themselves, and others hate it. Don’t expect equal participation. 
7. Two hours spent playing table games together is one of the most useful things your group can ever do. 
8. Food always accelerates intimacy. 
9. The more you can encourage people to talk about each other (in positive ways, when they’re together!) the more everyone will feel accepted. 
10. When people are willing to talk about their disappointments in life, they’re opening themselves to the formative power of the group. 
11. Having people share one thing they appreciate about the person to their left, forces them to think about each other. 
12. Write down prayer requests and have each person take home someone else’s request. Suggest they send a note or email of encouragement to their person during the week. 
13. Encourage everyone to participate, but allow anyone to decline. 
14. Use people’s first names as often as possible. Especially early in the group’s life.
 More on building a new group: Discipleship Journal's 101 Best Small Group Ideas


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20 Questions to Build Group Connections

Here is a great exercise for a new group. The instructions are pretty simple. Go around the group giving each person the opportunity to choose one question and answer it honestly. Anyone can follow-up with an opinion or clarifying question (no critiquing each other's answers, though). Once a question has been answered, no one else may answer that question.

If your group is larger, you may want to alter the rule and allow each question to be answered 2 or 3 times. Ideally, each person should end up answering 3-5 questions.

As the leader, pay attention to the conversation. Let the discussion run its course as this is how people in the group build their relationships with one another. You can use these questions, modify them or create your own.