How to run a taster session

An informal taster session is an easy way to get people in your church or community interested in Sycamore. It gives you an opportunity to share your initial ideas without any commitment; to test the water right at the beginning; to get quick responses, feedback and suggestions; and to recruit your initial core team if you decide to go ahead.

INVITEES AND ADVERTISING

Invite as many people as you wish. You can spread the net wide and ask your whole community and just see who comes. Tell them there is no commitment beyond turning up for this taster session.

You can tell them the aim of running the taster session is:

  • To help the wider community know how Sycamore works
  • To encourage those who are inspired by what they see get involved in some way
  • To get feedback on the session and suggestions for how it could be run well in your community

Some things to bear in mind:

  • Check out quickly the “basic timetable for an enquiry session” here. But then ignore it because you will want to simplify… Don’t be daunted by this!
  • Keep the taster session very simple. You don’t need to cook a meal this time, especially because the numbers may be unpredictable, and you have some extra “feedback” to do with the group at the end of the session, which will take extra time.
  • Food and drink: Why not have coffee/tea and cakes/biscuits. Or have some beer or wine!
  • Keep the discussions moving quickly so you can finish on time and give lots of time for feedback. Remember this is just a taster session!
  • This all assumes that you have a tiny group of two or three people who are already committed and hope to move forward

A simple timetable could be [Assuming a 7pm start]:

  • Afternoon: Buy some cakes and biscuits or beer and wine…
  • 17.45 Core team meets. Pray together as a core team asking God’s blessing on the session and all those who come.
  • 18.00 Prepare the meeting room. Make it as beautiful and welcoming as possible.
  • 18.30 Be ready to welcome early arrivers
  • 19.00 Serve drinks, cake etc
  • 19.15 Welcome and brief introduction. Tell the group that you are running the core part of the session as if they were “normal” guests, and there will be time for feedback and discussion at the very end. But encourage them to enter into the session itself (and the discussion questions) as if they were just there to be involved, and not to analyse Sycamore!
  • 19.20 Run the session, using “Film 1: The Search for Happiness”. Choose between: (i) THE WHOLE FILM – BUT WITH SHORT DISCUSSIONS: Have six or seven minutes at the most for each of the three discussions so you finish the session after 40 minutes. Don’t worry that it seems rushed. (ii) ABBREVIATE SLIGHTLY: Have longer for the first two discussions but stop the session at the end without discussing the last question (“What helps you to relax and de-stress?”).
  • 20.00 Feedback from the participants. Invite comments about any aspect of the session.
  • 20.10 Explanation from you about your hopes and plans for Sycamore in your community. Explanation about the different help that is needed (the Sycamore roles: cooking, praying, leading discussion, etc). Invitation to join the wider team (but without promising any specific roles to anyone before you have had a chance to think, and with the proviso that if there are too many volunteers you may need to hold back some people for a later stage). Take names and contact details. Plan your next team meetings.
  • 20.30 Finish on time. 90 minutes is long enough for any meeting!

FILM 1 is here for you to view and use in this session: