Over the last few years, the area of launching more groups within our Small Group ministry has been a great target of growth for our team. It’s challenged current and past systems within our church, pushed our level of leadership to new places and helped us wave the banner for seeing healthy group growth for individuals and families to connect with.
My heart was opened to the greatest way of launching more groups – The Campaign – during my first visit to The Lobby event in SoCal. I got to hear Pastor Steve Gladen share his own personal experience with helping a greater number of people at Saddleback Church connect with groups and Pastor Rick Warren shared the same sentiment later in the week. I got home and read through Pastor Steve’s book Small Groups with Purpose and it was so powerful. He mentions the campaign and its power, early on in a chapter titled, The Saddleback Difference and later brings back the concept in a greater focus. I highly suggest this book and the principles around leading your church through a properly executed campaign!
A properly executed campaign is by far the most effective way to launch more groups, but I want to talk through what each point person can do beforehand to launch more Small Groups. In addition to the campaign model, here are four not-so-big ways to launch more small groups.
Consistently Connect with Church Members
Small Groups in many cultures are new concepts, experiencing changes or simply misunderstood. As a point person we should use every opportunity, whether on stage, in a church atrium, or at a coffee-house with an attendee to share the vision and purpose of Small Groups. Share the value of groups, the importance of leadership and how steps can be taken to join with anyone interested in listening. If you have an elder board or church leadership member not involved in groups, approach them with honest questions of how you can help them take this step.
In this connection process it is essential to listen. I wish our church’s groups were perfect, but I need to hear where our groups are not up to par. It helps our team and leaders address what our church attendees need from their group. It helps us add new group types, studies or even see people we’ve not given a great deal of opportunity for connection.
In launching more groups, it’s essential to listen and understand how the groups are currently connecting.
Utilize Semester Breaks Wisely
For the churches that practice a semester calendar, it can be a temptation to use the break like the small group, but we as Point People should use this time to be more intentional about our Small Groups.
Connect with veteran leaders to hear about who in their group could take a step into leadership. Make personal conversations with “earmarked” potential leaders a priority. Slip a story celebrating group leadership to your pastor or social media team to highlight a win and include an invite to join the SG team at the end.
When groups are not naturally featured, it’s our job as Point People to construct a large flashing neon sign pointing to what’s to come.
Create Multiple “On Ramps” For Potential Participants
Successful Small Group cultures and Point People use and execute the Small Group Campaign with all sorts of success. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of double digit percentage growth out of these seasons when done well. That being said, these point people do not rely on only a single way to join or lead small groups. They also explore other routes to help people onboard into the process.
One principle I’ve learned as a point person is that nothing beats the personal ask in the middle of a semester to a potential small group leader. Whether the ask is from you or a member of your team, their realization that a point person thinks highly of them often ignites an inner desire to grow in leadership their capacity. There is also something extra special about making a connection with a new family and finding that “perfect” group a month or so after the group push. In my opinion, these simple victories highlight the greater purpose of groups and helping people connect with the body of Christ!
I would challenge point people to look past the big day and to the regular days for moments that propel your group growth forward.
Help Your Future Groups
If we are not careful as point people, we can get caught up in the excitement or stress of “now.” In doing so, we put off the issues of tomorrow for a much later date. Handle the important situations today, but do not neglect moments to shape the future of your church’s groups. Sit down with your Lead Pastor, leadership team and/ or group leaders to ensure your alignment with the vision of the church. Observe possible adjustments needed but also find places to share group stories or testimonies consistently. Identify together, the ways in which your church can invest into the future of groups.
Ask your pastor or team to help you speak into your groups and attendees, specifically around the principles of group leadership and community. If your church consistently hears stories of life change, spiritual and relational value, many barriers can be eliminated by helping the groups been seen as what they are… an important but normal part of our walk with Christ!
Use these moments to invest today in order to help your church realize group growth tomorrow.
In each of these steps, I encourage you to be extremely prayerful and surround yourself with teammates that are seeking God’s guidance as well. No matter if you are discerning feedback from group members or gauging what people to empower with group leadership, its vital that God is in each conversation.