One size rarely fits all. Oh, you might be able to force your foot into the shoe or fit your body into the t-shirt…but one size rarely fits all. And it’s the same with small group launching strategies. What works well in the fall might not work as well in January. What works off of a special day like Mother’s Day may be a real bomb off of Father’s Day. That’s why you need to develop a year-round strategy if you want to launch groups year-round. Here are some key principles:
- Plan your approach with the whole year in mind. Viewing the year as a whole will help you balance your approach to keep it fresh. As much as you’ve become a fan of the HOST idea, you will quickly nauseate your congregation if you use that strategy every time. Ok, nauseate is pretty strong. But you will definitely get a diminished return if you use it too often. What’s the antidote? Use a variety of strategies to launch groups.
- Keep in mind that the impact potential of every season is directly affected by what precedes it and what follows it. This is often missed but is very important to understand. For example, what makes fall the best time to use the HOST strategy is that summer precedes it. Easy to use August to recruit HOSTs, September to promote the church-wide series and then launch late in the month. What about January? When will you recruit HOSTs? Not in December.
- Keep in mind that the two best times to launch waves of new groups are late September/early October and late January/early February. What about Easter? Easter can work, but it usually so late in the spring that it doesn’t give new groups enough time to firmly establish new connective tissue before summer.
- Keep in mind that each season of the year has its own distinctive qualities. For example, fall will bring new attendees who are new to the area. They’re often looking for a church like the one they left behind. Other times the summer has convinced them that THIS is the year they need to get their kids into a church. They’re unconnected. Ripe for an opportunity to get involved in a church-wide study. On the other hand, the first of the year brings people who’ve just resolved to get involved in a church. A very different motivation. They’re not new to the area. Just to the idea of attending. That motivation provides an opportunity to use a small group connection with a study that appeals to people looking for a fresh start. Each season presents an opportunity to design an approach that definite distinctive qualities.
- You will not catch every kind of fish with the same bait. If you want to catch ‘em all, you’ll have to use a variety of baits. Some will respond to a church-wide campaign. Others a well-timed connection event. Still more to a topical approach that targets a need and then offers a bridge to a next step.
Ready to get started? The first step is to look at the year as a whole and plan with the specific needs and opportunities of each season in mind. Right now is the time to plan for the first of the year. January and February offer a chance to provide easy and obvious next steps for New Year’s resolutions. Why not put a team together and begin to plan your small group strategy for 2009?