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Q & A: How Can I Break the 50% in Groups Barrier?

Have you ever been stuck and couldn’t figure out what was keeping you from taking a next step or reaching a next level?  All of us are there at one point or another.

I had a comment on one of my articles this week that led to an email exchange with a small group director.  In the email she made this comment:

We seem to be stuck at the 50-60% mark and I’m not sure how to get past that.  Our groups usually meet for 6 weeks in the fall and 6 weeks beginning in February.

When I read that line I immediately formed a diagnosis.  You might have, too.  Here it is:

  1. Whether you’re launching new groups or getting existing groups back together after the summer or after the holidays, it is essential to give them a curriculum to do next in about week 3 or 4 of a 6 week series.  Lyman Coleman said, 6 weeks is short enough for people to commit to and long enough for them to begin to build community.  I’ve found that one of the most important keys to building grouplife is to keep groups meeting beyond their first 6 weeks (in fact, it is one of the 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups).
  2. Although this might be a totally new philosophy, it is essential to begin thinking about the year…not just the next season.  My article, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar provides some important help with this task.
  3. You might want to look at the kind of curriculum you’re choosing.  It may be that choosing a similar topic every season is limiting your reach to the usual suspects.  If you want to connect new people, you’re going to have to try new things (How to Connect People No One Else Is Connecting).

Along with my diagnosis, I want to point out that 50 to 60% in groups is nothing to sneeze at.  It actually puts you in a pretty high category…if it’s based on real numbers.  To determine that, I think you have to use your adult attendance for Easter or Christmas Eve, which in most cases is larger than your average Sunday adult attendance.

Why do you need to use that number?  If you’re like most churches, it’s not the same group of adults every Sunday.  Depending on the kind of people you’re reaching, it might be that your average adult might only come 2 or 3 times a month.  That’s why you need to use Easter or Christmas Eve.  Those are services that nearly everyone attends at the same time.

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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.