When comparing small group ministry strategies and systems there are some fundamental questions to consider.
- What are the requirements to be a leader?
- What does a new member commit to?
- How will you care for the leaders?
- How does a new group begin?
- What materials can be used?
One of the most effective small group ministry strategies is centered on the idea that an annual church wide campaign is the easiest ways to launch new groups. At its root it is a pretty simple strategy:
- Choose the right topic for an alignment (weekend message series and small group curriculum)
- Launch it at the right moment (there are three best times)
- Provide a curriculum that is easy to use
- Ask members and attendees to consider hosting a group and inviting their friends and neighbors
- Provide a follow-up curriculum that is on an appealing topic and easy to use
5 key elements. Admittedly, there’s a lot more to it, but those are the keys. And clearly there are some important distinctions that you’d best not overlook. For example, there are certain topics that are easy to invite friends and neighbors to and others that will just not work. There are times on the annual calendar that are naturally better than others. But when you get the keys right…this is a great way to organize a small group ministry because it answers many of the most important questions.
Still, it is not problem-free. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have. Here’s a quick overview of some of the key disadvantages and advantages:
- It takes a lot of energy to pull off a church-wide campaign. Regardless of church size, this is a high energy endeavor.
- It requires the focus of the whole church. A church-wide campaign is not something you do while two or three other initiatives are being launched.
- You will have people sign up to host a group that may not meet your standards.
- Not all groups will make it. Not all of them will even start, let alone finish the six-week study or continue to the follow-up curriculum.
- Choosing the right topic can be challenging.
- You may have to set aside normal practices to accomplish a church-wide campaign (i.e., “we’re in a year-long study of the Book of Acts).
- Focusing all your attention once a year on one thing brings energy, clarity and focus to your congregation.
- The right topic and curriculum can bring new vitality to outreach effectiveness.
- Recruiting hosts skillfully will identify a new wave of potential leaders.
- Encouraging ordinary members to take a step will open their eyes to new ways God wants to use them.
- Aligning weekend messages with a small group curriculum launches one conversation for 6 weeks bringing renewed focus to the congregation.
There are probably other advantages and disadvantages. This is not a stand-alone strategy. Many churches use it in combination with ideas borrowed from other strategies and systems. But it has some distinct elements that can provide a renewed sense of purpose once a year.
Here are three additional articles on the church-wide campaign-driven idea:
- The Exponential Power of a Church-Wide Campaign
- How to Sequence a Small Group Launch
- Lessons from Saddleback: How to Launch Your Church-Wide Campaign
For an overview of the major small group strategies, check out my article, “How To Choose a Small Group System or Strategy.”