Note: I’ve updated this article to apply to 2011-12.
What do you do when you take a trip? Are you one that takes out a piece of paper and begins jotting down all the things you need to do and then puts all the things in a kind of checklist? Or…do you just jump in the car on the day of the trip and make it up as you go along? Maybe you’re somewhere in between…but which would be more like you?
Here’s the thing. No matter where you are on the “take a trip” diagnosis, you’ve probably learned that when we’re talking ministry it’s better to be a planner; it’s better to get ahead of the curve and work the details out in advance. That said, here are four things you can begin to do now to get where you want your small group ministry to go in 2012.
- Pull out a 2012 calendar and pencil in the big opportunities to connect unconnected people. Start with end of January/beginning of February. Don’t launch too early. Allow at least three weeks to promote your next connection opportunity. I’ve found that holding a Small Group Connection works very well early in the year. The next big date to write in is a late September/early October launch. This is a great time of the year to do a Church-Wide Campaign.
- Once you have the two best connecting opportunities nailed down you can fill in additional dates. For example, you’ll notice that Easter 2012 is April 8th. An early Easter makes it possible to choose a topic that works for fresh start kind of people who may attend your Easter service. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day also present good launching opportunities. Adding an insert to your bulletin on those Sundays and inviting unconnected women or men to join you the next Sunday for a connection allows you to highlight studies that are natural next steps.
- Now that you’ve begun to develop a yearlong approach for your small group ministry strategy, go back and begin to pencil in the way you’ll promote each event. For example, if your Small Group Connection is on Sunday, January 29th, you’ll want to have an sign-up form in your bulletin on the January 15th, and 22nd. It’s important to take a moment during your service both of these weeks and have everyone pull out the form, fill it out if they’re interested, and “put it in the offering at the end of the service.” A great additional step is to include a live or video taped testimony about the important of being in a life group. The combination of several steps in what I call “the dance” allows for the highest response potential. You may want to have a blurb in the bulletin on January 1st and 8th.
- The final step for each movement of your strategy is to determine how your groups will transition to the next phase. For example, if you’re planning to use Love at Last Sight to launch groups in January, you’ll want to begin recommending a next study in about week 3 or 4 of LALS. You might put a link to the website in your leader email. You may want to have samples of the next study at the small group table. You might even want to have a DVD and monitor playing the video in the lobby after your service. That will help your newest groups see that there is something planned to do next. At the same time, you’ll want to begin highlighting the next study by having your pastor hold up a copy of what’s next and mentioning it in the service in week 4 or 5 of LALS.
These four simple steps will take some work. They are about immediate actions that you can take that will have an impact on the first quarter of 2012.
Ready to move beyond the immediate and begin to diagnose where you actually are, identify where you’d really like to go and implement a strategy that will get you there? Sometimes fresh eyes make a big difference. You can find out about my coaching and consulting options right here.