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5 Key Ingredients That Motivate a First Step Toward Community

Here is today’s question: What are the key ingredients that motivate unconnected people to take a first step toward community? Is there a recipe that helps motivate a toe-in-the-water? What is it? Do you need all of the ingredients? Or do you just need 3 or 4 of the key ingredients?

Just like any other recipe, I think there is almost always a nearly perfect mix. The right ingredients, in the right proportions, prepared in just the right way, add up to deliver the results you desire. And I think when you want your congregation to be connected in community (because you know that is the optimal environment for life-change), you get serious about the recipe!

Here is what I believe are the key ingredients:

1. Senior pastors’ stories about their own need for community. This may be a no-brainer, but all of us should know that no one is trying anything new that the senior pastor isn’t already doing. The evidence is in on this ingredient. You might be able to get by without one or two of the other ingredients…but not this one.

2. Compelling stories from satisfied customers. “I use ______.  You should too!” There is a reason that marketers love the power of a great testimonial. When the testimonial comes from someone who looks and sounds like me, I am much more likely to give it a try.  

3. First steps that are easy, obvious and strategic. Unconnected people can be motivated by senior pastors and the compelling stories of satisfied customers, but first steps must still seem reasonable in their eyes. It doesn’t matter what you and I think is an easy first step. If the unconnected people in your congregation (and crowd) don’t feel like the step you’re offering is doable…it’s not.  

4. First studies that are designed with unconnected people in mind. Not only must the first steps offered be easy, obvious, and strategic…the topic must be something that matters to unconnected people. Ever wondered why some church-wide campaigns work better than others? This ingredient is at the heart of the issue. Choose the right study, the invitation is accepted. Choose the wrong study and the invitation is dead on arrival. Never had a chance.  

5. The sense that everyone else is doing it. This may not seem like it is a big deal or should be a big deal…but it is a big deal. This is why it’s important to get everyone on board when you’re launching a church-wide campaign.  It’s also why it’s important to eliminate competing programs (or at least don’t promote them) during intentional efforts to encourage everyone to take a baby step and take a group for a test-drive.  

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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.