There are some difficulties with this method. First, pushing a leader out of their comfort zone and into an invite-mindset requires frequent vision casting from leadership. Some group leaders will take it and run with it, but finding a leader who facilitates well and has an invite mindset is challenging.
Second, many of your leaders will need support and equipping to do this well. The more ownership and autonomy you give leaders, the more you need to train and develop them. This is not a bad thing, but it can present a challenge for churches with fewer resources earmarked for group life.
2. Group Members Are Assigned to Groups
Why Choose This Model
In the story of the prodigal son, the father does not seek out or go after his son. Instead, the father immediately received the son. People walk into our churches every single Sunday with needs just like the son. This model shines in receiving people who come into the church looking to connect. It’s especially great for connecting people new to your church.
Churches who use this model generally have a dedicated person who makes connections and makes sure these connections happen quickly. This is great because new members of your church know exactly what they need to do to get into a small group, and they don’t have to wait long. Being fast matters. Consider: How many Sundays is the average church attender going to come to your services without knowing anyone? Will they stick around long enough for someone in an existing group to befriend and invite them? A connection person can quickly connect them into a group that fits their geography, affinity, and stage of life.
The major benefit of a central connection process is control: You determine who gets new group members, how many, and when. You and your ministry team will need to determine how important this value is to you.
This leads to a second benefit. When a staff-led connection process exists, your team gets to see the development of your communities firsthand. If leaders own this process, your team will only get to see the results of connections. If we make the connect, we have an opportunity to shepherd everyone involved. We get to see the big picture more clearly.
Central connection is far more practical, efficient, and fast. The ROI of having a connection person is huge. If we believe that community is key in the life of the church, then facilitating it with a specific process will yield great returns. Community can be messy, so whenever we can set up an easy-to-understand process, we can develop great wins.
Assigning someone into a group can feel mechanical. Even if you have the warmest person at church serving as your connection person, these assignments can feel a little forced. After all, you’re being sent to a group of strangers.
Additionally, this model requires us to have a smooth process. Process-development might not be a strength in your ministry. The best people to do connection are generally the worst people to develop the operations side of connections. Connection people are warm and inviting, and they love relationship. On the other hand, they often hate paperwork. Does your church have the support to provide them so they can do what God has designed them to do? To do it well, you need a system of tracking and relationship management with both group leaders and prospective group members.