As your church becomes small groups centered, the system’s growth will begin to happen organically. There are three things you can continually do to keep the soil fertile.
1. Encourage Staff Members to Keep Their “Groups Radar” Sharp
Every staff member should be making a habit of connecting people to groups and constantly encouraging new people they meet to sign up for a group. At every Sunday morning service, community project, fun event, children’s ministry drop off, etc., the church staff should be connecting people with language such as, “Hey, Dave. How are you? So you’ve been at the church for three weeks now? Have you heard about our small groups? Let me introduce you to Ed. He’s leading a great group . . .” Church staff are always sparking interest in an attempt to spur uninvolved people into action.
2. Have Group Member Testimonies at the Weekend Service
Preface these testimonies with something like, “Ben and Sara are going to give a testimony now about how God has been working in their marriage. They are in Craig and Emily’s small group . . .” Make small-group language something your people are used to hearing. The subtle implication being that if someone isn’t involved in a small group, they are missing out on something big.
3. Hold Members Accountable for Small-Group Participation
At The Journey, small-group participation is a membership requirement. (For additional resources on developing a strong Membership Process, see this book’s website at www.ChurchLeaderInsights.com/ Activate.) As we saw with staff participation, you will never get new people (people from the crowd and congregation) involved in a system that your members haven’t bought into. It’s okay to ask your members to make groups a priority and then hold them to that commitment. Groups are an essential part of their spiritual growth. This doesn’t mean they have to lead or be in a group every single semester. If some life circumstance is making commitment to a group difficult, they can take a semester off—which also goes for the church staff—but they are part of the system and love the culture. They are excited about groups, talk about groups and regularly attend or lead groups.
Remember, as a leader, your attitude and the staff’s attitude about and involvement in the small groups system is the rudder that will direct the church’s small groups journey. There is a definite trickle-down effect that comes into play. As you latch on to the vision, others will follow. So do your part. Take the lead. Think full staff participation, and you will be on the path to small-group success!
Searcy, N., & Thomas, K. (2010). Activate: an entirely new approach to small groups. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.
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