I’ve been meaning to blog about this for the last week or two now and just haven’t gotten to it … until today! Our small groups kicked off the other week and I have to confess, I was a little stunned at the response! Normally when we kick off the year, most of our new faces are the incoming sixth grade kids. Not so this year … we had new people for EVERY one of our dozen or so groups! Our attendance was for our first week was literally double what our best nights were last week! I’m not sure what happened … but I have some guesses …
Our mission trips were amazing this summer. We tried an experiment and split our normal two trips into three to make each group a little smaller (20-30 people per state-side trip instead of the 50-60 we had last year), and the payoff was HUGE. The spiritual and relational benefits for our teams was unmistakable. Coming off those trips, we had a great summer of activities capped with our annual retreat. Normally the retreat happens in late September, but due to cost issues, we switched to a much more affordable option that only had one available weekend: the end of August. It was a risk that irked a few, but we really didn’t have any choice from a budget standpoint. Instead, it ended up being a major win – everyone LOVED the retreat, a lot of the parents loved having their kids go on it before school started instead of during school, and the weather ROCKED. Consequently, we came off of a great summer with tremendous energy and momentum, some awesome new leaders, and a group of teens that are PUMPED to be around each other!
It also meant that we could start small groups a little sooner than we have in past years – which I think helps because we’re grabbing kids before everything really settles into a routine. And finally, we lucked out because it was a Jewish holiday the next day, so they all had school off and came out!
I’m still kind of left with my head whirling, but it seems like we had a lot of great things happen to set us up for a great small group kick off. At the moment, our big goal is to keep kids coming for a few weeks so some relationships get cemented. Last week we had a bunch of Rita’s water ice (DELICIOUS!) and this week we’re getting a ton of Season’s Pizza to kick off the night with. Ultimately, our goal is to get some key relationships and connections in place that keep people coming week after week regardless of whether or not there’s pizza – I honestly believe our small groups one of the best things we do in the spiritual lives of our teens!