One of my follow-up surveys related directly to the issue of people skills. There were three interesting findings that came out of that survey. Take advantage of them all.
Cell-phone use. I asked leaders how many members’ phone numbers they had programmed into their cell phones. My suspicion was this: Leaders of growing groups would likely have more numbers programmed because they contacted their group members on a more regular basis. Turns out, my suspicion was right. Rapidly growing classes were more than twice as likely (112%) to have 10 or more class members’ phone numbers programmed into their cells.
So make it easy for yourself. Get your group members’ numbers in your cell. Then call them and say, “Let’s go get a pizza!”
Where are your best friends? I asked teachers how many people in their group would say, “My best friends attend my group.” Again, rapidly growing groups were more than twice as likely (105%) to have 5 or more people who said their best friends attended group, too. What do we learn from this? Rapidly growing classes, normally, are groups of tightly knit friends. This also puts to rest the myth that non-growing groups are relationally closer. People sometimes fear outreach because they think it will disrupt existing friendships. The opposite is true—relationships help groups grow.
I like this group! I also asked, “To what degree do you agree (or disagree) with this statement, ‘I really like my group’?” The results were even more pronounced—rapidly growing groups were more than three and a half times more likely to strongly agree. People often say to me, “I don’t know if we want to grow our group. We’re just happy the way we are.” The research suggests that they’d be even happier if they embraced the vision of growing their groups—and their circles of friends.
What emerges from these findings is a very different picture of group life than I find in some churches. Again, this is not so much an organized program that has strategized to reach a goal, but rather, a tightly knit group of friends who enjoy doing life together. If you don’t have good people skills, the joy in being together never materializes. Here are some ideas on how to use your social skills to help cultivate that joy.
Josh Hunt, Make Your Group Grow, 2010.