Whether I’m buying a TV or choosing between phone plans, I like to see a side by side comparison. Don’t you? Or how about a list that ranks products according to their performance?
The top 8 ways to launch new groups (according to their performance):
Please keep a few things in mind as you look over the list today.
- First, this list is based on my opinion. You may have a different opinion. I just ask that you read through my rationale to fully understand how I ranked the strategies this way.
- Second, I’ve based my ranking on average results (not exceptions to the average). You may know of a church that has exceptional results.
- Third, I’ve left a few strategies out that are really more add-on in nature. Since they’re not stand-alone strategies, I’ve listed them below.
- Fourth, this is about launching new groups. Not adding to existing groups.
Here’s the list ranked from lowest potential to highest potential to launch new groups:
8. Apprenticing: Apprenticing is an important leadership development strategy. Every leader should be apprenticing. Although “results may vary” apprenticing only rarely results in a new group every 12 to 18 months. Far more commonly, apprenticing strategies produce co-leaders of existing groups. See also, True or False: Leaders with Apprentices Leads to More New Groups?
7. Free Market/Semester-System: Free-market run in the classic sense involves the production of a catalog of available groups every semester and either 2 or 3 opportunities to select a group to join for the upcoming semester. Operators of free market systems rarely report an overabundance of new leaders or new groups. Rather, new leaders more commonly replace retiring leaders (or those “taking a break”). See also, An Analysis of the Free Market Small Group Strategy.
6. Sermon-Based/Semester-System: Sermon-based systems have a slight advantage over free-market in that it is generally part of the culture of the church (a la North Coast) and “everyone is doing it.” Still, new leaders more commonly replace retiring leaders (or those “taking a break”). See also, An Analysis of the Sermon-Based Small Group Strategy.
5. Book Club (that leads to off-campus): Choosing the right book offers a larger sign-up. This strategy often leads to large numbers of unconnected people participating. As it is not promoted as a way to join a group, it also leads to connecting unconnected people into table groups that often decide to stay together and continue meeting. See also, Two Big Opportunities That Will Connect More People This Spring.
4. Short-Term On-Campus (that leads to off-campus): This strategy has more potential than the book club because it most commonly offers a slate of options to choose from (i.e. Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, The New Rules for Sex and Dating, Authentic Manhood, etc.). Marketed well and run correctly, this strategy consistently leads to new groups that continue meeting off-campus. See also, North Point Increases GroupLife Participation by Adding an Easier Next Step.
3. GroupLink: North Point’s popular strategy can lead to new groups with new leaders, but is primarily a strategy that enables pre-approved leaders to fill their groups with unconnected people. When there are not enough pre-approved leaders a secondary practice kicks in and groups are formed with the expectation that a leader will be identified (as part of the process) from amongst the group. See also, North Point’s Small Group System.
2. Small Group Connection: Saddleback’s small group connection strategy builds leader identification into the event itself. Every group formed is a new group with a new leader. See also, How to Launch New Groups Using a Small Group Connection – 2016.
1. Church-Wide Campaign: Well-executed church-wide campaigns leverage the HOST strategy (or the “if you have a couple friends” variation) to form new groups. Existing groups can be encourage to “take a small group vacation” and can multiply to form additional new groups. Leveraging the power of the senior pastor’s influence can lead to waves of unconnected people responding to the challenge of joining a six-week group (that can and often does choose to continue). See also, The Exponential Power of a Church-Wide Campaign and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.
Image by Stuart Rankin