- Keep the group small to medium sized. This is not to leave other people out, but to encourage real fellowship. I did not send my invitation to the entire church for this reason (and because it wasn’t an official church event). When too many people are in a room, it’s just not possible to include everyone. I found that an invitation list of 12 women kept the group at about ten women a month.
- It’s hard to commit to something often, but once a month is easier. Be sure you decide and announce the date at least three weeks beforehand. I used Facebook to send a private message to the group, which allowed chatting within the message.
- The reason I had no kids (nursing babies welcome) at my girls’ night is because having a time to really share and care for one another without little ears hearing or interrupting is important. It allows true vulnerability and encouragement. It’s very difficult to be vulnerable with one another (due to lies from the enemy, upbringing issues, lack of practice, etc) so taking away any road blocks to this is important. I’m not saying that it can’t be done with kids in the backyard or playing, it will just take more work and child training . I will also say that most moms of lots of littles are usually distracted (mentally) while their children are near, possibly preventing them from fully engaging in the group.
- Having a slightly open agenda is good, but too open can get awkward. We mostly visited, but to help and to give us purpose (and to fulfill the Titus 2 mandate… yes, I was the older woman in this group), I chose a topic for each gathering and we would share/discuss. Examples: how we handle anger, how we show grace to our children/family. I made sure they knew that no one was expected to give a presentation, it was just a time for us to sharpen one another and to encourage each other in our weaknesses to look for Him.
- I made sure to encourage them that I didn’t care how they looked or dressed: I just wanted them to come. Some came dressed up, others in very casual clothes
- I asked them to RSVP, but assured them if they said no and then wanted to come, they were always welcome. I just didn’t want to plan for a group and no one show up.
- Time of day is important. I had mine at 7pm, after dinner, so they could feed their families before coming (making husbands more likely to encourage the gathering) and so that their children would be headed to bed soon. It was also early enough for my early birds. We penciled in 7:00-9:00, but I was game to having ladies stay as late as they wanted (I’m a night owl). If having your group meet during the day, you need to be even more mindful of time, since the ladies may need to get home for other committments/responsibilities.
- I provided the snacks. The reason I did this was because I really wanted the invitation to be “just come”. Nothing to fix. Nothing to get ready. Nothing to do. Because it was just women and it was after dinner, I usually had a sweet and a salty item (brownies and chips & salsa OR cake balls & spinach dip; etc) as well as iced tea (hello! it’s me!) and water. This was not a hardship for me financially or time wise because it was only once a month and I kept it simple. Occasionally, someone would offer to bring a treat. I always took them up on it.
- The most important ingredient for this time is a real dropping of expectations and a vulnerability. No one likes to go to a group where everyone seems to have it all together, while they know their own struggles on the inside. That’s not encouragement. I don’t mean bashing or gossiping, by any means. I just mean that what I see women craving most is real connections (we are relational) and those can only be made when we are real with one another.
I will never forget our girls’ nights together because they were intentional, purposeful and welcoming. I loved them and cherish the chance I had to invest in those young moms and as well as my opportunity to get to know them as friends!
Setting up a regular Titus 2 style fellowship really isn’t that hard if you make the focus about the relationships and sharing with one another.