It came as a surprise for us to acknowledge, but the end of our small group was difficult, much because we sensed the closeness we had always wanted had now become ours. Breaking up to allow new beginnings was important, but we would miss—dearly miss—this group that had served some for up to eight years.
To give credence to the investment each had made to our small group, a breakup party was organised. Given that breaking up is hard to do, our breakup party was structured in such a way as to provide closure, and so, too, to allow new beginnings to emerge without constraints from the past.
Structuring a Small Group Breakup Party
1. Plan a Fun Start
As people arrived we enjoyed supper together, and then we began with a simple game: “never have I ever...” This game provided plenty of laughs as each tried to predict what things others may have done that they hadn’t done.
2. Question Time
Question time was the body of the evening. Each question had its own important role. These were the questions and the reasons they were asked:
þ Share your favourite highlights of this group (this requires group members to think back at the memorable moments that were significant, funny, etc).
þ What have you learnt about others, yourself and God during your time with this group? (This question is about growth; recalling our inventories of growth helped us chart our progress, giving us meaning regarding value.)
þ Does anyone have any regrets about this group? (Of course, this is a risky question, but small groups, if they are to be authentic, must traipse into risky relational territory.)
þ What will you miss about this group, and what will you take with you to your next group? (This is a forward-thinking question. It gives us the opportunity to plan ahead to ensure future experiences are maximised around current and past learning.)
3. Love Bombing
Commonly known as a ‘warm fuzzy’, love bombing sets out to affirm the gifts we see in or appreciate in another person within the group. Sharing in this way we all gained a better insight into the myriad qualities of each group member. We learned some things about other people we had not appreciated before. And there were the tears, as some spoke, where group members had touched our lives.
As the evening concluded we prayed a blessing on each other. Going around the circle, each person had a turn at praying for the person on their left-hand side: for their family, their new small group, and for their ministries.
5. Group Photo
Photos are memoirs of our times together. It is a worthy opportunity to get a small variety of group photographs—some serious ones and fun ones.
6. Plan a Reunion
What helps with the process of breaking up a close small group is the idea of meeting socially in six months. In this way breaking up is not as hard to do, because at least we have some social activity to look forward to.
Breaking up effective small groups so all can go on in growth in new ways can be hard to do, because of the feelings of loss that eventuate. But breaking up doesn’t have to be so hard. A structured process helps deal with some of the grief and it helps us look forward with new hope for the future.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: I wish to acknowledge my wife, Sarah Wickham, who planned the structure for the small group breakup party.