In churches across the country, small-group ministries are preparing to launch and re-launch this fall. As people head back to church after a summer full of vacations and activities, they're looking for a rhythm—a schedule—that allows them to connect with others and lead a meaningful life. And small groups can meet that need. But launching small groups is a little more complicated than simply letting people know about the groups available. Here are a 5 steps to prepare for a successful fall season:
1. Create a Strategy for Small Groups. Before you do anything else, spend time creating a group strategy or evaluating your current one. Is it working? Does it match the DNA of your church? Our training tool, Develop a Group Strategy will be a help you answer these questions and more. Discover the right model and structure for your context. Think you've got a great strategy but are having trouble communicating it? Check out Create a Compelling Vision for help.
2. Train Leaders. Whether your leaders have been around for a while or are brand-new, spend time preparing them for this important role. After all, trained leaders are more likely to be successful. Key topics to cover include the goal of group life, leadership expectations, how to facilitate discussion, and how to choose a study. For everything you need to know, use our Small Group Essentials tool Train New Leaders. You can also use our popular Small-Group Leader Training Program that uses video sessions, workbooks, and a leader’s guide to help you train your leaders in a snap.
3. Cast Vision to Your Leaders. This is the time to clearly communicate the ministry's goals and expectations—and make sure everyone is on board. Plus, don't forget to talk with fellow staff members and get them excited about small groups. You can't be the only leader championing small groups. Remind other key church leaders how important it is for them to invite people to groups as well. Our Training Tool Improving Communication for Effective Small-Group Ministry will help.
4. Cast Vision to Your Church. Once you have your leaders on board, you can begin recruiting people to small groups. Along the way, you'll also cast vision for what can be expected when someone joins a group. Connect People into Small Groups will show you how to market your minstry and funnel people into groups in a variety of ways. Hand out the article "What Can I Expect from Small Groups?" to new or potential group members.
5. Begin Groups. Support leaders as they begin their new groups by providing Start Your New Group, which includes information on their role, leading discussion, holding a great first meeting, and finding the right study for the group. The article "First Night Survival Guide" will especially help new leaders. And don't forget to follow up with leaders to see how their groups are going andhow you can help. Use Coaching Small-Group Leaders for helpful tips.