After your church has done a great job of challenging the congregation to try a group for a six week series, the next step is providing a convenient and effective way to join a group. They’re all dress up. Where do they go?
1. Shorten the Gap Between the Invitation and the Decision
When groups are promoted in a service, you want to get a response ASAP. I know what you’re thinking: why not use a sign-up card? Go back, read yesterday’s post (Wash, Rinse, Repeat). Putting something in your congregation’s hands during the service will make your invitation stronger. But, a sign-up card is the wrong thing. Put a list of groups in their hands or a small group FAQ. Get them thinking about the next step.
Then, immediately after the service, allow the prospective members to meet the group leaders in the church lobby. Since the pastor just reinforced the invitation at the end of the service by saying something like “Meet the small group leaders in the lobby right now, and sign-up to try a group for six weeks.”
At a minimum, ask them to commit to coming back for a small group connection event that evening or during the coming week. You will have fewer people come back, but you will have a higher level of commitment.
2. Face to Face Trumps Face to Paper Everyday
When prospective members meet group leaders, a great dynamic takes place. Old high school classmates are reunited. Co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances realize they attend the same church. Church members realize there was a group right around the corner from their houses the whole time.
While this sounds a little like speed dating, your members will be grateful to avoid an awkward six week commitment because they had an awkward 30 second conversation with someone. On the other hand, when they hit it off with a small group leader, they will look forward to what’s next. Another upside is that group leaders now have an idea of who is coming to their house.
3. Options, Options, Options
Prospective group members need options: days of the week, time of day, location, affinity. The more options you can make available, the better chance of prospective members sticking. Now, there are some exceptions. In the South, you don’t want to compete with football, so that means groups can only meet on Tuesday or Wednesday night, but definitely not Saturday night. In California, Friday night and Sunday night were very popular. Some people still need that mid-week boost: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
If you’re doing a church-wide series, ideally you might want all of your groups studying the same thing. It’s easier to point people to groups that are all doing the sermon-aligned series. But, some folks may just want to join a group regardless of the study. Or, they’re looking for something specialized like Financial Peace University or a PLACE study. Offer as many options as you possibly can to connect as many people as you possibly can.