About three years into our small-group ministry, people began to get excited about their friends and would invite them to their small group. While this is natural assimilation, we had not trained our leaders on how and when to invite new couples into their groups. Small groups are like families in many respects. The family usually has an understanding about certain things and a key principle or courtesy had not been clearly identified at this point.

I remember not practicing the courtesy of talking with my small group before I invited a new couple to our small group.  We had prayed for the couple as a group, but I did not discuss inviting them.  The new couple showed up at the door and two other couples became very quiet. The small group experience changed that night and one couple decided not to come back the next week.

Our small group couples were so hurt because they had finally getting the courage to share with the group and then the group changed.  They did not know this new couple.  The new couple had not become family yet. So the couple who had wanted to share just stop attending the group.

It took a few months to work out the relationships with this couple, but we now have a little different process for assimilation. Each month the small group is to have a party; pool party, ice cream outing, white water rafting, cookout, etc.  Two out of three of these parties are for the small group to have fun and provide opportunities for families to get to know each other at a deeper level.  Once a quarter we ask that this party be for the purpose of inviting the friends you have been building a relationship with who are not in a small group.  The entire group is aware of this process.  The entire group discusses which party will be designed to bring friends.  This enables the entire group is to be part of the assimilation process.  These quarterly parties encourage every small group member to be praying and building relationships with others.