How will your hosts add members to their groups? After you’ve chosen the church-wide campaign you will use and recruited hosts, determining how you will recruit members is a very big decision. Along with the first two questions, this one has a lot to do with how effectively your campaign reaches into the crowd. It also pre-determines the administrative challenge. Here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- While geography can play a part in helping a new group form connections…it isn’t the only thing that matters. For certain life-stages it isn’t a major factor. The most important element in connectivity is affinity: what your group members have in common. Several factors can help determine affinity. Life stage and interests are two very important factors.
- At some point every church grows beyond its leadership’s capacity to know everyone. Once that happens it becomes more and more difficult to adequately match everyone who wants to be in a group with the right group. Additionally, it takes time away from other tasks that are often more important. This makes is less effective for the prospective new group member to fill out a sign-up form and turn it in, requiring the church to find a match. I’ve found it more effective for most churches to make a list of the groups available and challenge their members to find a group that fits them. This can be done in a low-tech way by simply making a list of the open groups available on a table in the lobby. Slightly more advanced is adding a page on your website with a detailed list of groups (day and time they meet, what they are studying, specific affinity [ie., couples, young couples, women, singles, etc.] with contact information for the leaders (email and phone). A very effective solution for many churches is to provide a searchable group finder that allows direct contact by phone or email with the host. This is made very simple through the use of an application like GroupsInteractive or Churchteams.
- Use of a web-driven strategy makes it possible to send out a church-wide email with a link back to your small group finder on the website. This can be done easily with a plug and play email service like Constant Contact. Sending out a church-wide email and adding a small group finder on your website are two ways to make it easy for unconnected people to find a group that fits them.
- Another affinity factor that is often overlooked is that when the host begins filling their group by inviting friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members, it helps provide a sense of connection that is less likely when the church takes sign-ups and randomly assigns members to groups. Equally, when your hosts invite their own friends and connections to join their group…it allows a reach into the crowd that isn’t possible when you simply take sign-ups on Sunday morning and then “deal out” the sign-up slips to hosts.
- Use the host orientation to give your new hosts some vision and training on how to invite people to their group. Providing invitations along with a script can make it easier. Devote some time in the orientation to helping your hosts actively think through their connections and make a list of friends, neighbors and co-workers and make a list of who to invite. Click here to download an example of what I use to do that.
Remember that in the same way your choice of topic and your host recruitment strategy determines your reach into the crowd…so does the strategy you use to recruit members to groups. Encouraging your hosts to fill their own groups will help them have better connectivity. Making it possible for members to easily find a group that fits takes some of the administrative burden off your team.
The last piece I talk about in this series is how to sustain the new groups that you launch. It has to do with telling your new groups about What’s Next? When and How to Promote the Next Curriculum?