Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders 5 Ideas You Ought to Be Testing This Fall

5 Ideas You Ought to Be Testing This Fall

5 Ideas You Ought to Be Testing This Fall

I have never been more proud than when my prospective boss at Parkview was told, “If you’re OK with a mad scientist, Mark will be a good hire.”

And no other statement has rocked my imagination like this one from Craig Groeschel: “If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing.” Translation: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep reaching who you’ve always reached.

Here are five ideas you ought to be testing this fall:

1. “If you have a couple of friends you’d like to do the study with…” If you haven’t yet tried Saddleback’s latest innovation, this fall is the perfect time to test it. The HOST strategy was a remarkable 2002 innovation created by Brett Eastman and Saddleback’s small group team at Rick Warren’s insistence that they “add a zero” to their goal. Their latest iteration (“If you have a couple of friends you’d like to do the study with”) has dramatically improved the outcome. See also, Saddleback Has Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

2. Auditorium section leaders to warm up your weekend service. If the safety and anonymity of your auditorium is a mixed blessing (i.e., allowing less extroverted or newer attendees to ease into your weekend experience), what would happen if a team of relationally gifted volunteers began to own sections of your auditorium. And what if their primary mission was to meet and get to know the people who habitually sit in that section with the ultimate aim of offering each person they meet a next step? Willow Creek has been using this strategy for several years (and I hope to have an interview with them soon about it).

3. On-campus studies (that lead to off-campus groups). There are many people who attend our churches for whom simply attending the weekend service has required great courage and willpower. What is so familiar and normal to most of us is actually uncharted territory for a generation of people for whom even attending a church is a new experience. When we ask them to leave the safety and anonymity of the auditorium and join a small group that meets at a stranger’s house, we should not miss the fact that we are asking them to take an even more courageous and daring step into the unknown. On the flip side, what if you simply chose a study that same kind of person would find interesting and offered it on-campus at a convenient time? And what if the seating was at round tables with six to eight other unconnected people? And what if about four weeks into a six-week study you suggested that if they were enjoying the company of the people at their tables they may want to consider continuing to meet somewhere else? This is the essence of a strategy we’ve been using for a couple years. See also, Take Advantage of This Short-Term On-Campus Strategy.

4. Intentionally designed community incursions. What if you identified two or three no-brainer opportunities for church members to spend time with the people who live on their street and in their neighborhood? For example, what if instead of (or in addition to) holding your annual Harvest Festival or Trunk-or-Treat you equipped your members to create fun and inviting outposts on their driveways? Or what if instead of having a movie night in your auditorium or fellowship hall, you equipped your members to host block party movie nights on their cul-de-sacs? See also, Connect With Neighbors This Fall: Top 10 Ideas for Small Groups.

5. Launch a neighboring initiative or pilot. This is more than a twist on #4. The Art of Neighboring is a great book we all ought to be reading. Written by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, The Art of Neighboring was prompted by a joint church movement developed in Denver in response to a comment made by Arvada, Colorado, mayor Bob Frie. When asked, “How can we as churches best work together to serve the city?” Frie said,” The majority of the issues that our city is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” What if you read the book and then launched a neighboring initiative (or even a pilot)? See also, Don’t Miss This Great Resource: The Art of Neighboring.  

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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.