We all know that small groups are a great way for people to get more connected into church and to each other, but sometimes the hurdle can be getting them to take the first step of signing up to try a group. Here are some tips that we’ve seen work well for many of the churches we’ve worked with over the years.
- Run a small group fair. This is a common practice with my home church. Every small group leader gets a table near the entrance or along the hall leading to the auditorium. There are balloons; some people put out candy; we circulate descriptions of each group so people can find one that interests them. Since the tables are in the entrance, the fair gets a lot of attention and a large response.
- Another idea is to get every small group to make their first meeting a purely social gathering that they advertise around the church. This helps because a lot of people who refrain from joining a small group do so because of the unknown. They don’t know the leader, they may never have been in a small group before, they aren’t sure what to expect. A purely social meeting relieves this pressure. Your members meet the leaders, they can relax and enjoy themselves, then they hear about the next week’s get together and there’s a smooth transition from social meeting to the next week’s small group meeting.
- You can use your website to post a list of all your small groups and the contact info for each. This method can’t stand alone, but it’s a great way to augment a push for small group involvement. If you need help making this list, you can use Excellerate’s web integration feature. It will automatically build and post just such a page. What’s even better is that every time you upload, the program recreates the page, so your info is always current.
- Another technique for getting people involved in small groups is by using the appeal of various topics. Just think about how many people would be interested in studying how to get out of debt, or how to effectively parent teenagers. You’ll get a huge response! Even if your small group system isn’t topic based, you might consider having one or two of these groups, just to help new people get used to the idea of small groups, then you can integrate them further as time goes on.
- Finally, e-mail makes for a great advertising tool. If you create a sign-up form on your website, you could even include a link to that form so people can sign up for a group the moment they get the email. With Excellerate, this process is even easier, because it’ll let you send the email only to the people who aren’t already in small groups.