Great question from Tim today: How do we equip existing groups/group leaders to successfully assimilate new members?
Let me start by saying, that is both a great question and a very frequent question. At the same time…I think it’s actually the wrong question or the wrong way to look at the issue. Why is it often the wrong question?
“How can I help existing groups learn to assimilate new people?” is often asked by small group pastors in response to the requests of dwindling groups that are genuinely looking for new people. Not a bad thing by any means.
If you can help existing groups learn to add new people (friends, neighbors, co-workers, people they meet at church), that’s certainly a good thing (see my article: Top 10 Ways to Find New Members). It’s a good thing as long as it’s not your main strategy for growing the number of people in groups. Why?
In my mind there are two important principles when it comes to growing the number of people in groups:
Principle #1: It’s easier to connect unconnected people to new groups.
For starters, I’ve found that it is much easier for a new person to connect with a new group. In fact, once a group has been meeting longer than about 6 months it gets harder and harder for a new person to connect. Jim Dethmer said, “Groups begin to form an impermeable membrane very early.” He was right. Still, there are things you can do to help equip existing groups to improve in their ability to add new members. You’ll find help in my article: Skill Training: Top 10 Ways to Find New Group Members.
Principle #2: The most effective way to grow the number of people in groups is to grow the number of groups.
I really believe that it is much more effective to start new groups. Unconnected people find it much easier to connect to a new group. If your church is growing you’re going to need more leaders and more ways to connect people…so it’s a win/win.
That said, here are 5 articles that should help you find a way to launch a lot of new groups:
- 5 Keys to Finding More Leaders
- How to Connect People No One Else Is Connecting
- How Do I Keep All of Our Groups Viable?
- Design a System That Identifies Potential Leaders
- Top 5 Ways to Multiply Groups
I hope this line of thinking helps. To me, the key is that there are always going to be more people who need a group than you can fit in the groups you have. I’ve never run across a community where that isn’t true.