You’d be surprised to discover how many women don’t know much more than the names of a few other ladies at your church. They need time to connect, share their stories with each other, and get an idea of what to expect before they’ll be ready to open up their hearts and share honestly with each other.
It’s best to do this in smaller groups since the idea is to get women personally connected. So first, invite all your small group leaders or facilitators to join you in doing the following things together. You’ll model your expectations, and let them see for themselves how important this step is for the women they’ll be guiding. Plus your leaders will connect like never before!
Here’s what to do:
• Make a memory together!
Easy: have the leaders of each small group invite her women over for coffee, to go out to dinner or dessert together, or even meet at a park and go for a walk together. This time together in a different setting makes conversation more natural.
Over-the-top: encourage small group leaders to get their group together for an adventure that’s sure to bond them. Horseback riding, canoeing, a behind-the-scenes tour of a local attraction, painting pottery together—anything that’s out-of-the ordinary, takes a few hours, and will provide a connection they’ll talk about for years to come.
• Ask women to think back to when they were young girls, and then have them share a memory of what they most enjoyed during those years. Or have women share about how they became Christians. Or invite them to tell one dream they still have for their lives. Giving a specific topic for sharing includes everyone—and questions like these allow women to share as deeply as they are comfortable.
• Use this time to go over group expectations. For example, will your group start on time and end on time? Is it OK to bring kids along or not? And most importantly, who’s bringing snacks?
• Go over group boundaries at this time as well. Discuss what accountability to each other looks like, why being accepting of each other’s differences is important, and how critical it is that confidentially is maintained. Women need to know that what they share won’t become the topic of conversation and gossip! You may want to create a simple group agreement that everyone signs to convey how important these points are.
Amy Nappa, former and much-loved Champion for Women’s Ministry at Group Publishing in Loveland, Colorado