4. Watch the number of days that pass.
The longer someone has to wait to get connected to a group, the more likely they'll change their mind or find something else to fill in that empty time slot. So act quickly. Aim for getting people connected within the first two weeks after they sign up, while it's still fresh on their mind.
5. Make it easy and clear for your group leaders.
It's common to pass a new signup over to a leader. When you do, be very clear on what you want the leader to say and do, and when you'd like them to do it. For example, you can say something like: "Hey, I've got a young couple that I think would be a great fit for your small group. Can you contact them and say a quick hello and invite them to your next meeting? Can you do this by the end of the week? If it isn't a good time to add them to your group, let me know."
Tip: If you decide to include the prospect in that e-mail, put the leader's e-mail in the To: field and the prospect in the CC: field. Recent research by Yesware.com showed that when you do this, the leader is more likely to open and respond to your e-mail.
6. Follow up with each signup immediately.
People will want to know if you ever got their sign up request and if you're working on finding them a group. For each signup you get, take just a minute to e-mail or call them back and say something simple like: "Hey Michael, I got your group sign up request. I'll make sure you get connected soon. Stay tuned." That simple confirmation will go a long way to put people at ease. It has for me.
7. Schedule the group leader follow-up.
Put it on the calendar to follow up with the leader of the group to which you connected your prospect. This is a huge drop-off point for many group ministries. Leaders will often forget to follow up, or they unsuccessfully try to follow up once and move on. So plan on this happening by following up with the leader a week or so later. Just send the leader a quick e-mail or text, or give the leader a call. Ask how things went contacting the prospect and if there's anything you can do to help. It's ultimately your responsibility as the ministry leader to make sure prospects are contacted by group leaders.
8. Schedule the post-placement follow-up.
This is another big drop-off point, and it's one that many ministry leaders don't even think about. Once you know a person has been connected to a group, put it on the calendar to follow up with him or her a week or so later. Just send them a quick e-mail or text, and give them a quick call. Ask prospects if they went to the group and, if so, how it went. This can lead to some really great insights for group members' first group experiences, and it will show them that you really do care.
Take Action: Implement a System
I realize this can be a little overwhelming. It seems like a lot to do. You and I both know how important it is to make sure people get plugged in. Be intentional and come up with a system for this—a way of efficiently and consistently handling people who want to join a small group—so that they are successfully placed into one every time. Then if people aren't connected into a group, it's because they didn't want to be in one—not because you didn't place them in one.
Without a simple system, chaos ensues, and people inevitably fall through the cracks. And when people fall through the cracks, there's a good chance they'll never join a group at your church.