How to Exponentially Launch More Organic Groups

How to Exponentially Launch More Organic Groups
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How to Exponentially Launch More Organic Groups

There are ongoing discussions about what kind of groups are easiest to launch, what kind of groups are healthiest for members, and what kinds of groups actually make disciples.  Looking back at my own writing and that of others, I can see a lot of opinions and a lot of strategies. What I don’t see much of is help to launch more organic groups (which might be the most productive kind of group).

Think about it.

Almost everyone has a few friends. And yet, the most popular strategies to connected unconnected people are primarily designed to connect people who don’t already know one another; people who are not yet friends (or even acquaintances).

Have you ever thought about that?

Whether you launch new groups with a small group connection, or GroupLink, or a small group fair…you are using a strategy that is primarily designed to connect people who don’t already know each other.

Whether you use a semester strategy (sermon based or free market), or a program like Rooted, your strategy is primarily designed to connect people who don’t already know one another.

For that matter, when you run a church-wide campaign most churches simply publish a list of existing groups and allow unconnected people to join them.

The most popular strategies to connected unconnected people are primarily designed to connect people who don’t already know one another.

And while I’m not saying that friends never come together to a small group connection or sign up for the same semester group, I am saying that there are very few strategies intentionally designed to help unconnected people launch new groups.

Isn’t it a little strange there isn’t more emphasis on starting organic groups?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think it might be a little strange.

After all, if you think about it, shouldn’t it be pretty easy to start new groups with people who are already friends? And what if you added co-workers, neighbors,acquaintances and family?

How to Launch Exponentially More Organic Groups

The first tactic to add to your existing strategy is the element of “bringing a friend with you.”

Regardless of your group launching strategy, simply encouraging participants to bring a friend with them will increase the organic nature of the groups you form.

“Looking for a way to get connected here at First Community? Bring a friend and join us at our upcoming small group connection.”

This line should be added to all verbal announcements, bulletin promotions, website and email content.

Second, add a self-starter kit to every group launch strategy.

Regardless of the strategy you are using to launch new groups, there is probably a way to make it easy for groups to begin organically.

“If you’ve got a couple friends you’d like to do the Transformed study with, stop off at Group Central after the service today and pick up a Starter Kit. It has everything you need to get started.”

The newest version of the HOST strategy, this will help launch a new wave of organic groups to your results, you’ll connect a lot more unconnected people.

See also, Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

Third, add a tip sheet with invite ideas and helps at your new leader orientation and/or training.

If you want to connect more unconnected people and add a more organic feel to the groups you form, you need to get both your leaders and group members in the game of inviting. Begin by training your leaders to be better inviters (and remind them that it’s their job to fill the group, not yours).

This may be a philosophical change for your ministry, but as I’ve pointed out many times, you’ll launch more new groups and connect more unconnected people if you prioritize new groups AND train your group leaders to “fish for themselves.”

Finally, add a second-wave invitation to every new group you form.

If this is not already part of your new leader training and ongoing practice, you need to add it immediately. It’s so easy to do and so effective and when practiced system-wide will add more organic additions.

A second-wave invitation is something that should happen at the end of every first session of a new group (if not during the get-to-know-you meeting before the first meeting). It is simply asking the question, “who do you know that should be invited to join our group?”

“Who do you know that should be invited to join our group?”

While this is a built-in element in many small group studies, it should always be added where it’s not built-in. Training your leaders to ask this question will almost always add new members organically in the second week.

No Problem Free

Are these tactics problem-free? Nope. With each of the tactics I’ve mentioned here, there will be a set of problems. You’ll have to develop a self-starter kit. You might have to reframe the process of qualifying to lead a group or create a preliminary step that leads to leader status.

There is no problem-free. Every strategy comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders choose the set of problems they’d rather have.

I would much rather have the problems that come with starting more organic groups. And I bet you would too.

This article originally appeared here.

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded, 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

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