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.
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."