Here are some suggestions, based on my experiences.
- I had my daughters brainstorm a list of names. Some of the girls they invited were very close friends, and some were girls they didn’t know quite as well. We made an effort to include girls who didn’t have or weren’t involved in church youth programs.
- Set a schedule and a meeting place. We originally met at a fairly small bagel shop that welcomed us and was quiet enough for us to have good conversations. When it closed, we reserved a room at my church or met in girls’ homes.
- Enlist a friend to help. Over the years, several other moms helped with our group. Three women in particular played key roles as co-leaders. As the group grew, this allowed us to cover some content and do activities all together, then break into smaller groupings for conversation and prayer.
- Have a plan. I had a flexible agenda that served as a guide from week to week. We generally had:
- A gathering time that included icebreakers, conversation, and eating.
- Some type of lesson. At first I wrote short lessons on topics such as friendship, beauty, anger, prayer, etc. Later we usually had an ongoing book study as the centerpiece of our conversation. (I will share book recommendations on a separate page)
- Application. I often provided a Scripture memory challenge or action step related to our topic. Girls shared prayer requests and prayed for one other.
- Extras. Many times we would also play a game, celebrate someone’s birthday, plan a service project, etc.
Remember your “why”. My main goal was relationship, rather than information. I wanted to provide an opportunity to talk about what was going on in their lives, through the lens of faith – but I wanted it to be a community, not a class. As much as possible I implemented suggestions from the girls and gave them ownership in how we did things.