Article by Pastor Ron Wilbur
Want to add folks to your small group but the church just isn’t sending anyone? No problem, because the best way to add members isn’t to hope that the church will send people to you but to build on your existing relationships.
Who do you know?
Everybody has several circles of influence. Just take a minute and make a list of the people in each of the following circles:
- Friends. They already know you and like you. They will already be interested in something in which you’re involved. Don’t leave them out of this part of your life; invite them to your small group.
- Family. Okay, this works best if they live in the same general area. Your sister isn’t probably going to fly in from Topeka every Wednesday to attend your group. But if she lives within 15 miles, she may be willing to drive to your group. And what a great way to get together by being invited to be part of your group.
- Co-workers. Who do you see every workday? Invite them to your group with a quick description of your small group. Maybe start by inviting them to one of your small group’s social events so they can meet people before the regular meeting. If you have a workplace group, this is your fishing ground. If you have a home group and you have several people at work interested in your small group, think about starting a workplace group.
- Neighbors. Your neighbors in the surrounding blocks are a natural because they can walk to your group! The key to inviting neighbors is to do it in person, not with a flyer dropped on their porch. If you’re friendly and genuinely want to get to know them, you’ll satisfy two of their deepest needs (needs that we all have) – to belong and to be accepted.
- People at church. Over half of the people coming to our previous small group were people we met at church. We sat in the same place in church every week and got to know the people sitting near us. Inevitably, we’d ask everyone around us the question, “Are you in a small group?” When the answer was “No,” our next comment became, “Great. Come to ours. We’d love to have you in our group,” followed by a quick info on the group – where and when we meet and a mouth-watering description of the desserts for which our group was famous.
Don’t stop with you
After you have made your lists and you’ve invited at least one person from every list, teach the other members of your group to do the same.
With the group’s permission, take everyone through a simple exercise with a piece of paper and a pen, “Okay, draw three vertical lines, dividing the page into five columns. Write one of the following words in the heading for each column: ‘Co-workers, neighbors, friends, family, church.’” Then have everyone in the group jot down a few names in each column. Lastly, encourage everyone to 1. Pray for each person on their list, 2. Come up with some ideas for regular fun social events where a new person could come and meet everyone before they start coming to the small group meeting, and 3. Invite at least one person from one of their five columns.
You have discovered the secret of all great groups – relationships. The more your group members learn to build on their existing relationships, the more your group will grow.