Note: This article was originally posted 3/10/09. You’ll need to adjust the dates depending on when you read it.
Have you taken a look at your calendar yet? Easter is April 12th. That’s important for two reasons. First, it’s only five weeks away! But I’m sure you knew that already. The second reason that’s important is that it is five weeks away…and you can get a lot done in that amount of time…if you start now.
FIRST STEP: Planning
The first step is to pull out the calendar and actually lay out your plan. Taking advantage of Easter to launch groups means that you’ll probably announce a small group connection or encourage people to sign up to join a small group…on Easter. Using a special insert to make sign-up easy is important. In addition, you’ll want to reserve the room for the small group connection (or identify enough leaders or hosts to serve as group starters).
Another important planning element is to identify the curriculum you will use to launch groups. We’ve talked before about the Easy/Hard continuum. This is a time to choose a small group study on the Easy end. And this is a good time to have this decision to make. There are some great studies out there that are on engaging topics and because they’re DVD-driven, they’re easy to use. Choose a study that is no longer than 5 or 6 sessions. That makes it easier to commit to but long enough to begin building some connective tissue. Pick one that you can hold up on Easter as you talk about joining a small group. Put up a slide showing the cover as you talk about it. Also, many of the DVD-driven studies include a short promo video. If it’s appropriate in your service you may want to show the promo.
SECOND STEP: Preparation
Over the next five weeks you’ll have some work to do. If you’re going to use a small group connection event on April 26th, you should begin to include an insert on Easter (April 12th). Talking about it on Easter will give you some momentum and allow you to repeat the promotion three weeks in a row (including the day of the connection). Using the same insert each week allows your congregation to see that this must be important because you’ve highlighted it repeatedly.
If you’re planning to recruit hosts or leaders to serve as groups starters (instead of a connection event) you’ve got just enough time to recruit them and train them. They should be recruited for a 12 week commitment. Although you’ll be using a 5 or 6 week small group series, you’ll want the hosts or leaders to be in place for a little longer. An important strategy is to begin talking about the next curriculum at about week 4 of the first study. If you can keep them together for two six-week series they’ll be much more likely to stay together.
No matter which strategy you’re planning to use to launch new groups you should also plan to connect your new group leaders with a coach; someone to walk alongside them for the next few weeks.
STEP THREE: Implementation
Once you’ve laid the groundwork you’re ready to launch some new groups. With your insert in place and your connection event calendared for the April 26th (or your hosts/leaders cued up to begin) you’re ready to promote the new study. Let’s take a moment to look closely at how to promote it.
There are two very important parts of promoting a small group launch: placement and format. Where you place your promotion is huge. The ideal placement is in the message itself. You can really get a lot of mileage out of a well-timed reference to the importance of authentic, life-on-life fellowship in our lives. If all you can get is an announcement, make the best of it and use the promotional video that comes with the study. At a minimum, be sure you’ve got a slide with a picture of study, any important dates, etc. If it fits in your sermon to refer to it, have them pull out the insert right then and drop it in the offering later in the service. Even better if you can say, “In your program is an insert. It looks like this. Take it out and while you’re doing that I want you to welcome Bob and Carol (who are ready to share how meaningful their group has been to them).” That will take you about three minutes. But it is a huge advantage and well worth the time.
Ready to Try It?
It’s a great opportunity to launch additional groups before fall. Don’t miss it!
Need a little help developing the plan? Let us help you! Join me for Take Advantage of Easter, a FREE introduction to our telecoaching services. Two available times:
- Tuesday, March 17th at 8:00 am (PST), 1:00 pm (EST)
- Thursday, March 19th at 8:00 a.m. (PST), 1:00 pm (EST)
You will learn:
- 4 Keys to Launching Healthy Small Groups
- How to develop the launch timeline
Space is limited. Don’t miss out!