Planning to launch a wave of new small groups using a church-wide campaign? Maybe hoping is the better word? I’ve learned there are five steps to a successful small group launch using a church-wide campaign.
First, a disclaimer: In order for this strategy to work, your pastor’s commitment is absolutely essential. No getting around it. Without your senior pastor’s buy-in, this plan is not effective. With that understanding, here are the five steps to a successful small group launch:
Step One: Schedule a weekend message series that passes the following tests:
- At a strategic time (late January/early February, post-Easter, late September/early October). See When’s the Best Time to Launch a Church-Wide Campaign?
- On the right subject (a topic that is genuinely easy to invite friends to attend). See How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.
- For the right length (Six weeks is just right).
Step Two: Align a small group curriculum with your upcoming weekend message series that passes the following tests:
- Obviously, you can choose an off-the-shelf campaign. There is a growing list of great campaigns to choose from. A study that closely matches the sermon series works best.
- Easy to use. Preferably a video-enhanced study.
- Note: Bible Studies for Life will be releasing two off-the-shelf campaigns a year beginning with Pressure Points: A study of James in September 2013.
Step Three: Ask your members (and regular attendees) to consider opening their home to host a group. If you’ve met the conditions of Step 1 and 2, they should be open to the idea. Follow these guidelines when you ask them:
- Ask them in the context of a sermon and NOT an announcement. See How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version.
- Put together two or three sermons that talk about God’s heart for unconnected people (Matthew 9:36, 2 Kings 7:3-9, etc.). Use these messages as an opportunity to invite your congregation to open up their homes and host a group.
- Give your congregation a way to respond to the invitation in the service (an insert to be filled out is the best way).
Step Four: Provide an adequate level of coaching for your newest leaders and begin as soon as they respond.
- Invite them to attend an orientation where they can learn about what they volunteered to do.
- Connect them with a coach at the orientation. See Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns.
- Use the coaches to establish and maintain weekly contact with every host. See Four Questions Every Coach Should Be Asking.
Step Five: Give your new groups something to do next that is similar in kind.
- You’ve invited your congregation to “just open their home” and provided a curriculum that is easy to use. What you give them to do next must have a very similar degree of difficulty. See 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups.
- Let your new leaders know what is next by week three of their first study.
- Give any preexisting small group leaders the option to go back to their previously scheduled programming.
Ready to launch small groups in a way that has the best chance of succeeding…in a big way? Just follow the five steps. Need more help? I’m always available for a coaching call that debugs individual challenges in your congregation. You can schedule a call right here.
Mark Howell is the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada and LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. Mark founded SmallGroupResources.net, which offers consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkCHowell.