FAQ: How Do You Approach New Groups about Continuing Beyond the Initial Study?

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I get questions. I get a LOT of questions.

Here's one that came from a GroupLife Insider member:

We are entering week 3 of our campaign and I was wondering how you approach asking groups whether they want to continue? For instance, is it simply continue with an open-ended time frame, or do you specify it like 6 more weeks or longer?

We ideally would like these groups that continue commit to 12-24 months, but in conversation today, some felt that was a huge leap to go from 6 weeks to 2 years.


Great question! Let me set up the answer with a little more information that will give some perspective:

First, when we promote joining a group to participate in a church-wide campaign or attending a small group connection or signing up for a short-term on-campus study we always highlight the short-term nature of the commitment. Why? There are certainly exceptions, but in our experience, unconnected people are reluctant to make long commitments and less likely to join a group if they know it's a long commitment.

Note: Lyman Coleman, one of the true patriarchs of small group ministry in the United States and founder of the Serendipity curriculum line, often said that 6 weeks is short enough to get a commitment to join and long enough to form a connection.

Second, we've found that a high percentage of people who sign up for a 6 to 8 week group become more open to continuing as they get to know the others in the group. Each session they attend builds connective tissue and increases interest in seeing their new friends. After 3 or 4 weeks they are often very open to continuing.

My answer

When we're recruiting for a connection, we often use some variation of the language, "it's a six week commitment." At the connection we often say, "we know you've made a 6 week commitment, but you should know, we're praying that every one of these new groups want to continue meeting beyond the 6 weeks because life-change happens in circles, not in rows."

At about week 3 or 4, we begin suggesting to group leaders (via an email and also a check-in from their coach), that if you're feeling like the group would like to continue, we suggest THIS study as your next study (then, we show them what we've chosen for them to do next). During campaigns, we also have our teaching pastor say  (in week 3 or 4), "we've been hearing some great stories and know that many of our newest groups are planning to continue meeting beyond the current series. If you'd like to continue, stop by the Groups booth after service today and check out the study we're recommending you do next."
We always want to provide a next step that makes it easy for new groups to continue. While we never want to pressure anyone, we want them to know what their best options is.
Choosing and offering the right follow-up study will often encourage as much as 70% of new groups formed at connections to continue into the second 6 week study. See also,
Note: While we believe Lyman Coleman was right, we've found that at 6 weeks new group members have begun to develop some connective tissue and some interest in seeing their new friends. We've also found that it's in the second 6 week study that enough connective tissue forms and a degree of interdependence develops.


We want to lower the sense of long-term commitment at sign-up time. We want to make it easy to continue for any group that wants to. We know that groups that make it into their 3rd study are a lock to continue for a long time.

Further Reading:

Image by Photo Steve
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