If you want to build a thriving small group ministry it's important to remember that you need to have a year-round approach to launching new groups. While the fall definitely presents the very best opportunity to connect the largest number of unconnected people, there are absolutely several other very good times every year to launch new groups (and connect people who for many reasons did not connect in the fall).
Late January/early February is another very good time to launch new groups. This season comes with certain motivations that aren't part of the equation in the fall and need to be taken into consideration.
5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February
1. Every December finds another wave of unconnected people who realize they've got to make some changes.
They've overspent on Christmas. They're tired from trying to cart their children around to too many holiday commitments. They've overeaten and partied too much. They've let their exercise programs fall by the wayside. There is no better time of year than January/February to invite them to turn over a new leaf by getting involved with some other folks who are determined to have a better next year. That motivation provides an opportunity to use a study that appeals to people looking for a fresh start.
2. The first of the year brings people who’ve just resolved to get involved in a church.
A very different motivation than the fall. They’re not new to the area. Just to the idea of attending. That motivation provides an opportunity to choose a study that appeals to people who are new to your church.
3. At least some of the new groups from your fall church-wide campaign did not survive the holidays.
It is fairly common for a number of people who were part of a group in the fall (and loved finally being connected) to find themselves unconnected again. Establishing the mindset that sometimes it takes more than one try to connect with a group that really clicks will encourage unconnected people to try again.
4. The first of the year presents an excellent opportunity to focus your congregation on your vision and mission.
Many churches select a theme for the year and then choose a church-wide campaign or stand-alone study that will help get everyone on the same page.
5. Not everyone is ready to respond to an invitation to join a small group.
Some unconnected people are resistant to that invitation but very open to a lesser (or different) commitment. An on-campus "class" on the right topic present an easier first step out of the auditorium. Improving your marriage (Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage) or learning about relationships (The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating) are just two examples.
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