You may not realize this, but the things you do in May and June often predetermine how it goes in September.
With that in mind, here are five simple things you can do today:
1. Make a list of small group leaders who could help two or three new small group leaders get off to a good start. It’s not complicated. Think through your small group leaders and simply ask the question, “If they came alongside two or three newbie leaders for the first eight to 10 weeks of their new group…would it make a difference?” Make a list of the leaders for which that is true and invite them to help you launch some new groups this fall. By the way, this is the essence of what I do to recruit potential coaches. See also, Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns.
2. Invite your existing groups to take a small group vacation. Right now is the perfect time to cast a simple vision to your existing small group leaders and group members to consider taking a vacation from their small group this fall. Instead of meeting together as a group of 12, would they consider pairing up with another couple or a few others and help launch a new group? Just for the six weeks of a new study. Then they can go back to their original groups. That’s the essence of the small group vacation strategy and it leads to more new groups all day long. See also, Take a Small Group Vacation.
3. Think through the members of your existing groups. Try to identify 10 to 20 members who really should be leading a group. The fewer groups you have today the easier this assignment is. It’s very common for your largest and most successful small groups to have several potential leaders in them. Often these potential leaders serve in another ministry and view their group as the way they “get fed” or cared for. Once you have your list of members who should be leading groups, ask them if they’d be “willing to help get a new group started, just for a six-week study, then they can go back to their group.” Assure them that you’ll help them identify a leader from the group they gather. This is a slight variation of the vacation idea. I’ve used this in combination with the small group connection strategy to help jump start new groups. See also, How to Launch New Groups Using a Small Group Connection.
4. Look ahead at the sermon series and messages planned for August and early September. The six weeks from early August through mid-September provide the best opportunities to craft special “asks” for small group HOSTs and unconnected people. Well-crafted and even scripted “asks” or invitations will help more people say yes to “inviting a couple friends to do the fall study with them.” Carefully developed challenges will help more unconnected people respond to the opportunity to join a group that is using the study that goes along with our fall message series.” See also, Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again and How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version.
5. Think through your existing small group leaders and small groups for inspiring stories. Few things are as motivating as the inspiring story of a small group leader who said “yes” and then felt God’s “well done.” Or a small group member who finally said yes to joining a group and then God used that group to meet their needs in the way only community can. Adding these “stories” to the HOST ask and join a small group invitation will have an exponential effect on outcomes. See also, How to Develop Video or Live Testimony that Recruits Members or Leaders.