I was fueling up at Costco last Friday evening and as I looked around I became aware of one thing, Summer is here! I watched a handful of trucks pull in with boats to be fueled for a day at the lake, two mini-vans packed tight with what appeared to be items for a weekend getaway to the beach, and the worst sign of all was I was swatting away mosquitoes. Summer is a time of remembering your childhood days at the pool, relaxing with your family, and often feeling a little disconnected at church. So, how can we utilize this time in a way to maximize a Small Group launch in the fall? I believe these four steps can set you up for a successful semester and be the foundation for an impactful future for your church community.
1. HUDDLE UP
Connect with your Lead Pastor, Leadership Team, and key players in your church and dream about what you want your Small Groups to look like. How many groups would you like to launch with? Are there any Sunday Schools, serving groups, or ensembles that you will fold into the SG flow? And most importantly, what role do you want Small Groups to play in your church’s discipleship process? What is the purpose of each Small Group in the life of a person and family?
2. GAME PLAN WELL
As leaders, we must look forward into the coming months and know each step potential SG Leaders and members will take during the fall semester. I believe the greatest proven method to launch groups is to begin with great, Biblically sound content and a Campaign (we do one every year) like Purpose Driven Life is instrumental in launching groups with a bang! Prayerfully decide on a topic, book of the Bible, or sermon series that highlights your church’s vision and begin there. You want to start the conversation with your congregation on Sunday and allow them to dive deeper into God’s purpose in their lives throughout the week. I would even tell them before you start, Sundays will be good, but the best content will be found in your Small Group during the week. Pastor Rick Warren said, People join for content. They will stay for relationships. So make sure you plan your content well!
“Accelerate!” is a small group strategic planning workshop for small group ministry point people and their leadership team. These powerful sessions will be taught by Saddleback Pastor Steve Gladen and other Saddleback small group pastors July 10 – July 12 at the Rancho Capistrano Retreat Center in San Juan Capistrano, California. REGISTER HERE
3. PICK YOUR TEAM
After you have decided on how many groups you want to begin with (I would suggest 10% of your Sunday adult attendance, 25 groups for 250 in attendance) you will need to identify a large percentage of your leaders before you mention the new concept to the rest of your church. Ask the influential members in your church to help lead this new endeavor. Choose people who are faithful to God, your church, and you. Make sure they are easy to connect with often and willing to be taught on how to lead groups.
4. THROW A PARTY (OR 10!)
Pull this group of All Stars together on a few nights throughout June and July to cast your vision for Small Groups. Let them know how important groups are. Jesus led one after all! Pass out your Game Plan for the fall. Tell them how they are going to help the church win! Equip them with SG Leader training materials, study curriculum, and let them know you are all partners in ministry. You need them to realize their ownership of this endeavor as well. Groups will rise and fall on the leaders you empower.
JT Black serves as the Small Groups Pastor at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to leading Small Groups, he helps guide the church’s outreach efforts in Augusta and the surrounding communities. He is married to his beautiful wife, Brittany, and is a loving father to June and John Bradley.