I had a series of great questions yesterday from a new reader. Not only were all three questions very good but I could sense the genuine desire to get the answers that would free up his small group ministry from a troubling logjam.
The last question he asked was, “How can you grow groups in an open, free market system where most of the groups aren’t filling up?”
Great question. As you can see from the title of this article, I’ve reframed his question slightly to answer the root question, “How can we help groups that are struggling to add members?”
Here are several keys:
First, keep in mind that as groups form and move through the first several months they begin to form an almost impenetrable membrane. Once a group has been together longer than 3 or 4 months, it becomes increasingly difficult for a new member to truly connect. It’s not impossible, but generally speaking only the most aggressively extroverted newcomers can find their way in. The exception might be new members that are sponsored in a sense by trusted original members of the group.
That’s an important understanding; don’t you think? See also, Great Question: How Do I Train Leaders to Add New Members?
Second, it’s important to acknowledge that new groups offer the best opportunity for new members to truly connect. This is really not even open for debate. Counter examples are only exceptions to the rule. It’s easiest to connect when everyone is new and on equal footing.
Can you see where this is going? See also, Top 5 Advantages of New Small Groups.
Third, if it is true that new groups offer the best opportunities for new members to connect, we should focus on starting new groups.
Granted, the conclusion that we should focus on starting new groups raises a whole new set of questions.
- Where can I find new leaders? See also, Small Group Leaders: Finding, Recruiting, Developing.
- How can I help new groups get started? See also, Top 5 Ways to Multiply Small Groups.
- What about existing groups that don’t have enough members? See also, 5 Assumptions that Stunt Small Group Ministry Growth.
In my opinion, none of these questions negate the reality that the best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people is to start new groups. Remember, there is no problem-free solution. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs. Start New Groups.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.