In addition to coordinating the themes for the year, the Senior Pastor has the unique opportunity to spike the weekend message with a call to action. What am I getting at? Easy. Every message has the potential of taking on a group life angle. The insertion of illustrations and stories offers the chance to comment on the importance of the life in community. The key is that the message itself (or the series) doesn’t need to be about small groups. Need an example? Read on.
We had the opportunity to attend Saddleback for about 18 months while between church staff assignments. The first four weeks we attended was a series on recovery. Title of the series? Don’t remember. Message titles? Don’t remember. Scripture? Don’t remember. What do I remember? The four testimonies. Each week of the series a different person walked to center stage and shared the story of the difference the members of their group made in their recovery. Grief recovery. Divorce recovery. Celebrate recovery. Every week a different story. Every week a compelling opportunity for the pastor to invite someone to share their story and then say, “You may be here today and not have the benefit and support that Bob was talking about. You can find out about getting involved in a group at Small Group Central in the lobby. Or you can jot us a note on your welcome card. Either way, you need what Bob was talking about.”
That was the first four Sundays. About six months into our season at Saddleback my wife said something to me as we were walking out of the auditorium. She said, “I see now why it is different here. I see now why they have so many people in small groups.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, as we moved slowly through the crowd leaving the service.
“They are relentless. They talk about small groups every week. Often several times during the service. Doesn’t matter what the message is. It’s in there somewhere. And it is every week.”
Want to connect 150% of your weekend attendance in groups? It won’t happen because you have a great annual emphasis. It is an every week initiative. It is not a weekly announcement. It isn’t just in the bulletin or the pre-service slides. The Senior Pastor is the primary communicator in most churches. The moment each week when you’ve got the attention of the largest number of people is almost always the message. Churches that want to be a church where nobody stands alone will relentlessly use that opportunity to cast that vision.
This is part four of a continuing series. You can read part one right here.