First, make sure that being connected is always presented as playing an essential role in growing spiritually. Don’t miss this. I believe being connected is essential to spiritual growth. When this truth is clearly and frequently presented and really part of the fabric of your weekend service communication, there will be greater responsiveness to the invitation to join a small group.
This is a critically important idea. In fact, I list the absence of this truth as one of five artificial barriers that limit growth in small group ministries.
If I can sit through a weekend service and not hear about the essential role that grouplife plays in spiritual growth, I’ll probably feel like I don’t need that extra ingredient that you talk about every once in a while.
Question: What percentage of your weekend services include a reference to the essential nature of being part of a group?
Second, make it easy for unconnected people to take a first step. It shouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. And it shouldn’t require a person to be an extreme extrovert.
It should be easy.
That means whatever you design for connecting people should assume that they might be an introvert (or married to one). You should assume they might need childcare. You should assume that they have a crazy schedule. And you should assume that the best process is the one with the fewest hoops to jump through.
Question: When you evaluate your connecting process, is it easy to get connected? Or is it actually pretty hard?
Third, make the process obvious. If connecting people is important…it shouldn’t take 5 clicks from the homepage to figure it out (or be below the fold).
First steps out of the auditorium shouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out. There should be nothing that causes even fleeting hesitation. You know the feeling you get when you’re suddenly unsure that this is the way to where you parked your car? Your process needs to be so obvious that you eliminate every reason for indecision.
Question: How obvious are the steps to connection?
Fourth, make the connecting process strategic. We know certain things about unconnected people:
- They attend less frequently. This usually means that you’ll need to promote your connecting event several weeks in a row. It also means that you can’t rely on a once-a-year emphasis.
- They often have more in common with their neighbor than with church people. Think about what that means in terms of the topic you invite them to study!
- They often have more “friends” who don’t attend your church than do attend your church. Imagine what that might mean for new groups that form with a study that encourages everyone to invite a friend for week two!
- Working up the nerve to attend your weekend service was incredibly hard. Imagine showing up to a stranger’s living room as a next step? This gives on-campus connecting opportunities an edge over online group finders or sign-up forms that lead to match-making.
When you’re designing your connection process, you need to keep the feelings of unconnected people front and center.
There is an opportunity in designing the connecting process for careful analysis and thoughtful attention to detail. There is also the real possibility that the process is actually just thrown together at the last minute, as if on a whim.
Question: How strategic are your connecting opportunities? Is great intentionality interwoven into the design?