Last night Jamie taught 5 Ways to Create a Healthy Small Group Environment to our leaders at the family dinner before our small groups. Here it is, modify/use it if you would like, too.
1. Be the first to arrive. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but arriving late can throw off the whole night. Being there before everyone else allows you to set the tone for the night and make sure everything is in place. If you are scrambling around, it can lead to a messy night.
2. Communicate with host home family. Spend some time getting to know the home you’ll be staying in. Maybe visit them ahead of time and talk about expectations. Be sure to be completely filled in on the “house rules” about animals, furniture, food and drinks.
3. Make sure meeting area is set-up and ready to go each night. Look for distractions that need to be eliminated. Make sure the room is available, relatively clean with the lights on. Turn off the TV/iPod/Computer and think about placing a basket at the door for cell phones to minimize distractions. You can’t go wrong with plenty of places to sit, too.
4. Sit at same level with students. While as a leader you do control the night, keep the style of the night conversational by sitting with them and not above them. Make sure you keep the environment attentive and help students not to lay down and laying all over each other.
5. Put the meeting area back. If the host home family was gone, our goal is that when they return home they have a conversation wondering if you even met or not. Make sure the students completely reset the room and clean up trash, throw away food and put furniture back if it was moved.
What other tips would be helpful for small group environments?