Here are 7 tips that will help optimize your small group ministry:
- Focus your attention on the things that only you can do and delegate everything else, Conduct an audit on your weekly calendar. Whatever you are doing that could be done by someone else, must be delegated. If you don’t have anyone to delegate to, see tips #2 and #3.
- Make identifying, recruiting and developing leaders of leaders your number one objective. Start by taking a serious, steely-eyed look at your existing small group leaders. Every super effective small group leader ought to be looked at as a possible coach (a leader of leaders). Anyone who is a sixty or hundred-fold leader and leading a small group of adults (even if there are 20+ members in their group) might actually be misappropriating their capacity on ordinary men or women when they could (and should) be focusing on leaders.
- Make identifying and recruiting a volunteer team of men and women who are passionate about small groups part of what you do all the time. Some of the most enthusiastic potential volunteers are not leaders of leaders. If you can’t figure out how to use them, spend an afternoon creating an org chart for your ideal small group ministry. Add positions for every person it would take to maximize your potential. Strapped for administrative help? Add a position or two. Serving as a greeter yourself at your small group connections? Add positions for greeters. Writing discussion questions yourself for your sermon-based study? Recruit a writing team.
- Give regular attention to optimizing your next step menu and strategy. A buffet does not lead to more participation. A carefully groomed selection of next steps takes great courage and skillful tact and wisdom. Trimming available options (or at a minimum highlighting only the best next step will yield the highest completion. This cannot be put off. Although it often can only be accomplished with the tenacity and temerity of a political operative, a carefully manicured becoming and belonging menu will maximize the number of adults who get connected.
- Eliminate every opportunity to sign up to join a small group. The only sign-ups you should be taking are sign-ups to attend the next event or program that will launch new groups. Every sign-up opportunity that necessitates a contact to arrange a matchmaker function on your part (or anyone on your team) is wasted energy. Edit your connection card to remove “I’d like to join a small group” and add “I’d like to sign up for the small group connection.” Edit your website content to remove matchmaker functions and replace with sign-ups that will ultimately launch new groups.
- Focus on launching new groups. Evaluate your menu of connecting opportunities and focus on events and strategies that launch new groups. Everything you are currently doing to add members to existing small groups (i.e., taking sign-ups to join a group, holding small group fairs that repopulate existing groups, editing catalogs or lists of open groups, etc.) are almost always the least effective ways to spend your time. Instead, focus your time and attention on planning and implementing events that launch new groups. The most effective way to connect unconnected people is to give them opportunities to join groups where everyone is new.
- Train leaders of existing groups to be always inviting new members to their group. Every group leader will eventually need to add new members. Their best chance of actually adding new members who can break through the nearly impermeable membrane of an existing group is when a leader or a member invites a friend to join their group. Matchmaking is almost always counter-productive. In most cases only the most brazenly extroverted (with the exception of experienced small group participants from other churches or who come from a group that died) will use a small group finder. It is also a seldom acknowledged reality that it is the addition of a brazen outsider that causes the demise of a number of otherwise healthy groups every year.
- Small Group Ministry Roadblock #2: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu
- Great Questions: How Do I Train Leaders to Add New Members?
- Top 10 Ways to Launch New Groups
- How to Design Next Steps and First Steps
- Rethinking the Role of the Small Group Pastor
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