You’ve had plenty of recommendations and requests from current group leaders.  Your senior pastor has dropped off the latest Max Lucado or Tim Keller book on your desk (complete with post-it note: This looks great!).   You’ve read the reviews and searched the catalogues for ideas.  You’ve asked ministry friends what they’ve used and thumbed through samples at the Christian bookstore.

And you’ve picked out what you’ve thought would be best for everyone.

But have you ever stepped outside the circle of the usual suspects to ask what might interest the people who aren’t in a group yet?

Peter Drucker wrote that “in marketing one does not begin with the question: ‘what do we want?’  One begins with the questions: ‘What does the other party want?  What are its values?  What are its goals?  What does it consider results? The Daily Drucker, p. 135).’”

I like to point out that our opportunity is more than keeping our current customers engaged.  Our opportunity is growing our market share.  Practically speaking, if you’re choosing curriculum that primarily appeals to the people who are already connected (the usual suspects), you shouldn’t be surprised that your percentage connected is flat when you compare this year to last.

If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you need to think about the needs and interests of the people who aren’t currently in a group.  How do you do that?  Here are three ways I’ve found helpful:

  1. Be aware of the main conversations happening in the media.  Having an awareness of the times (see 1 Chronicles 12:32 for more) is essential.
  2. Regularly check out what’s on the best-seller list (the non-fiction best seller list).
  3. Listen and engage in the conversations at the water cooler, at Starbucks, the Little League game and the block party.

What are you looking for?  Ideas that are cross-cultural (that matter whether you’re a Christian or not).  This is why I’ve recommended WEiRD, Soul Detox, Plan B, and Empty Promises.  This is why 40 Days of Purpose is still a great study.  These are all cross-cultural topics.  They matter to connected people.  They matter to unconnected people.

If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you need to think about the needs and interests of the people who aren’t currently in a group.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.