I remember during my days in the Navy a conversation with a young petty officer. He had received a stripe out of basic training in exchange for extending the terms of his enlistment two years. “Pushbuttons” such advancements were called. This young petty officer would often refer to what he deserved and this particular conversation was no different. Walking away I thought, “What DO we deserve?” Probably a question for another post.

Although in a different context, there are things your group members deserve. Group members will be much more apt to continue with the group over the long haul if they have a meaningful level of ownership and responsibility. In order for group members to sense ownership there are six things they deserve.

1. They deserve to see the vision.
2. They deserve to know the goals.
3. They deserve to help prepare the strategy necessary to accomplish the goals.
4. They deserve to be invited into the adventure.
5. They deserve to evaluate the progress.
6. They deserve to celebrate accomplishment.

To gain early buy-in from potential group members you need to give them some understanding of the following things. Small-group consultant Rick Howerton calls these, “The Top Ten Questions of Small Group Members.” These are questions that may not necessarily be asked, but are definitely playing on the minds of most persons on the other side of the invitation:
1. How much of my time is this going to take?
2. What are we going to do with our children during meetings?
3. Will there be homework? If so, how much?
4. Am I going to have to talk or can I just sit and listen during meetings?
5. Will I have to pray out loud?
6. Who else is going to be in the group?
7. How much do I have to know about the Bible?
8. How many weeks or months is this group going to last?
9. If I don’t like it can I leave without anyone being angry with me?
10. What are we going to be doing during meetings?

Consider your answers to these questions as you build your small-group ministries. It’s a good practice to answer, as much as possible, as you describe small-group life and articulate the small-group vision.