What is the most effective method of launching small groups in our church? While this is an important question, it’s not one that has a boilerplate answer. It really depends on your church and your situation. There are a few basic strategies and each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most commonly used:
- Recruit/take volunteers to be trained as leaders and then take sign-ups to be part of a group (I sometime refer to this as the “old fashioned method”)
- Encourage all of your existing small groups to identify and train an apprentice, preparing to “birth” when the apprentice is ready (the apprentice/birthing method is standard issue metachurch or cell church).
- Hold a Small Group Connection (an event where interested participants are sorted out by affinity and then choose a leader from amongst themselves.
- Use North Point’s GroupLink idea (similar to the Connection, but using preselected, pre-trained leaders)
- Identify leaders based on affinity (Dog Training, Fly Fishing, etc.) and then encourage sign-ups.
- Invite members/attendees to sign up to HOST a small group in their home and then invite their friends to join them (another version encourages both HOSTS and members to sign up and then matches them).
All of these methods have both “upsides” and “downsides.” That is, there are advantages and disadvantages to every one of them. I refer to this truth by saying “there is no problem-free.” The most become effective solution is simply the one where the advantages are more important than the disadvantages. Many times it’s as simple as “liking these problems better than those problems.”
In some ways the size of your church (average attendance and total number of attendees/active members) compared to the number of adults you already have in a small group will tell you a lot about what might be the most effective method for you.