If you’ve been paying attention you know that we tripped across the essence of a very intriguing idea at the 2012 re:group conference. North Point was testing a short-term group experience (6 to 8 weeks) designed to be an easier first step into community (without the 12 to 18 month commitment required of the groups that form out of GroupLink). See also, Breaking: North Point Increases GroupLife Participation by Adding an Easier Next Step.
The more we thought about the idea the better it looked and in early 2013 we took our first run at a connecting strategy that is now in it’s 5th iteration. We call them Base Groups and I think it’s something you might find pretty helpful.
Here’s the basic idea: Two or three times a year we offer a menu of short-term on-campus studies that are designed to lead to an off-campus small group. We offer these studies at the end of January and also in October (scheduled to end before Thanksgiving). Depending on Easter’s date, we may offer a post-Easter opportunity.
Important assumptions and details to understand about the strategy:
- We believe many adults in our auditorium will not connect if the first step is a stranger’s living room. See also, How to Calm an Unconnected Persons Second Greatest Fear.
- We’ve chosen 4 studies we believe will grab the interest of unconnected adults in the auditorium. The same studies are offered 2 or 3 times a year. We offer the same studies because we don’t want to create a destination. We want to produce off-campus groups. See also, A Smörgåsbord of Destinations vs Sequential and Tailored Next Steps.
- We’ve re-allocated on-campus space to prioritize short studies that lead to off-campus groups. The best rooms and the best times are reserved for Base Groups.
- Attendees are seated at the same tables each week for discussion. We separate adults who are already in a group from those who are not in a group (this is discovered in the registration process). This eliminates the disappointment that happens when not everyone wants to continue meeting.
- Natural leaders emerge at every table.
- In week 3 or 4 we promote the possibility the groups continuing to meet, doing a follow-up study off-campus.
This strategy has developed into an additional way we can connect people several times a year.
What do you think? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.