You don't have to be a fisherman to understand that you'll catch more fish by changing your bait, using a different lure, moving to another location, or fishing at a different time.
And it is the same with small group launching strategies. What works well in the fall might not work as well in January. What works off of a special day like Mother's Day may be a real bomb off of Father's Day. A open invitation to join a small group will work for some. Others will only respond to a particular topic of study.
That's why you need to develop a year-round strategy that launches new groups year-round.
5 Keys to Launching New Groups Year Round
1. Plan your approach with the whole year in mind.
Viewing the year as a whole will help you balance your approach to keep it fresh. The year has a rhythm. Every individual and every family lives their life in a kind of rhythm. There are beginnings and endings. There are seasons of anticipation and looking ahead. There are seasons of finishing and looking back.
When you look at the entire year you'll begin to see how your plan to launch new groups might fit within the rhythm of the lives of unconnected people. You'll begin to identify gaps that need to be filled with opportunities to connect to new groups. You'll also begin to plan and execute the lead measures that produce the desired outcome.
2. There are two ideal seasons to launch new groups.
The two best times to launch waves of new groups are late September/early October and late January/early February. Both of these windows come with built-in advantages. They have natural upsides that don't require artificial enthusiasm (see below for more).
What about Easter? Easter can offer a third window in years with an early Easter. However, a late Easter doesn't give new groups enough time to firmly establish new connective tissue before summer.
3. The impact potential of every season is directly affected by what precedes it and what follows it.
This is often missed but is very important to understand. For example, what makes fall the best time to use the HOST strategy (or it's newest iteration), is that summer precedes it. Easy to use August to recruit HOSTs, early September to invite unconnected people to sign up for a connection while promoting the church-wide series and then launch late in the month.
The fact that groups rarely meet between Thanksgiving and New Year's needs to be taken into consideration. New groups that have only met for 6 weeks have a hard time restarting after a 5 or 6 week break.
What about January? Can you see that you'd probably not use December to recruit HOSTs? Instead, you'd use January to recruit HOSTs. Early February to invite unconnected people to sign up for a connection while promoting the church-wide series and then launch late in the month.
New groups that form after Easter often have only 6 to 8 weeks before summer and will need help making it through an extended time of vacation, travel, children's activities, etc.
4. Each season of the year has its own distinctive qualities.
For example, fall will bring new attendees who are new to the area. They're often looking for a church like the one they left behind. Other times the summer has convinced them that THIS is the year they need to get their kids into a church. They're unconnected. Ripe for an opportunity to get involved in a church-wide study.
On the other hand, the first of the year brings people who've just resolved to get involved in a church. A very different motivation. They're not new to the area. Just to the idea of attending. That motivation provides an opportunity to use a small group connection with a study that appeals to people looking for a fresh start.
Post-Easter has its own motivations, upsides and downsides. Summer has some unique advantages and disadvantages.
Each season presents an opportunity to design a custom approach that optimizes the certain things and minimizes others.
Each season presents an opportunity to design a custom approach that optimizes the certain things and minimizes others. Click To Tweet
5. You will not catch every kind of fish with the same bait.
If you want to catch 'em all, you'll have to use a variety of baits. Some will respond to a church-wide campaign. Others a well-timed connection event. Still more to a topical approach that targets a need and then offers a bridge to a next step.
As much as you've become a fan of the original HOST strategy (or it's newest iteration), your congregation will quickly become numb to the invitation if you use that strategy every time. Using any strategy too often will produce diminishing returns. What's the solution? Use a variety of strategies to launch groups.
Ready to get started?
The first step is to look at the year as a whole and plan with the specific needs and opportunities of each season in mind. Why not put a team together and begin to plan a year round strategy?
Need help? I'm always available to help make your planning more productive. You can find out about setting up a coaching call right here.