How to Launch Interest-Based Small Groups

How to Launch Interest-Based Small Groups

God is so creative in how he made the human race to be so diverse! Different nationalities, unique languages, beautiful skin colors and various interests! Here are three tips when launching interest-based groups…

#1. Recruit leaders with an appeal to their interests 

It’s crazy how two complete and total strangers who have never met before can instantly become like brothers the moment they start talking about the same sports team that they love! How does this happen? A shared interest draws them together. Interest based small groups have the power to bypass people’s natural hesitations to gather and warp-speed them into community! Therefore, when it comes to recruiting leaders for interest-based groups, start the conversation with these questions: “What do you like to do for fun?” “What are your passions?” “What are your hobbies?” In larger churches, I would recommend that the small group ministry leader and the team of coaches connect with prospective leaders at the groups/sign up table in lobby during weekend gatherings and/or have a strategy to connect individually with people. For leaders in smaller churches of 500 or less, I believe one of the most effective ways to recruit leaders is simply over coffee, over lunch or even one-on-one in the church lobby. From there, help your leaders choose a weekly or bi-weekly time that works best with their schedule to lead their group. Lastly, help your leaders come up with a simple format for their group. We encouraged all group leaders to share a short encouraging scripture during their group time, but the one aspect that all group leaders had to do was lead their group in a short time of prayer.

As a small group coach, Jesus appealed to his prospective leaders’ interests when he recruited some professional fisherman named Simon and Andrew to be part of his ‘People Fishing’ small group ministry when he said…

“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Matthew 4:19

#2. Cast a contagious vision of community

When casting the vision of interest-based groups to your pastor, leaders and church body, the focus should not be so much on leading or joining a small group, but more about enjoying holistic community wrapped around the foundations of faith and shared interests.

When we launched interest-based groups last summer, we had a geo-caching group, a softball group, a new mommies group, a bicycling group, a baking group, a motorcycle group, a mountain biking group, a few fitness groups and a learning to play music group, among others! Adventure, food, fun and caring for each other around common interests—this is the kind of community that I think most people would be very interested in, if not longing to be part of!

“People join a group for content, they stay for the relationships.” –Rick Warren

#3. Diversify how you “train” your team 

To many people, the words “train,” “teach,” “seminar” and “meeting” have become synonymous with another word called “boring.” For example, to promote in your video announcements that “Small group leaders’ training is this Sunday during the second service” may not only come off as drab to your leaders, but many of them might not have the time to attend the “meeting.” Therefore, diversify how you equip your team by…

• Leading a “Rally” for your leaders or hosts as opposed to a “training,” “meeting” or “seminar” where you “teach” them. Rally means “to come together for common action or to inspire anew.” Promote and lead at least one dynamic rally with your leadership team before your groups kick-off. Inspire your leaders by casting a contiguous vision of holistic community, honor them with a delicious meal, equip them with simple resources and empower them with a time of prayer!

• Using Youtube, Vimeo or even your smart phone, create a few videos of about three minutes in length or shorter to equip your team. Start out with an energetic greeting, remind them of the vision behind groups and then give them a couple of quick tips on how to be an effective leader for their interest-based group. Do a few of these videos leading up to your launch date. I have found that video equipping like this can be very effective, especially for Millennial leaders who are tech savvy or for those with very busy schedules who can’t attend the rally. To view a short video I made as an example, click HERE 

• Sending out several group texts to your leaders can also be an effective way of equipping them, and one of the best ways to get them the information they need quickly. Genuinely tell them how much you appreciate them, give them one short tip or announcement and/or give them a link to an informative article to read.

• Using Mailchimp or another preferred platform, sending out a few group emails with a couple of laser focused equipping points, can be effective. However, I found that if this is the main way that you communicate with your leaders that it can just become white noise.

This article originally appeared here.

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Derek Olson
Derek is a coffee snob from Seattle who is passionate about Biblical community! He first began leading small groups as a youth pastor in 2004 and has had the privilege of doing so ever since in multiple ministry settings around the country. Derek is honored to serve as Communications Team Leader of the Small Group Network