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Connect 1,000 Prospective Members into Groups (Add or Subtract Zeros as Needed)

4.       Big Paper is Better than Small Paper

If you read yesterday’s post, then you know that sign-up cards are out the window in my book. But, when prospective members do choose a group to try, they need to sign-up on something. I give small group leaders a sign-up sheet for their group (not a card. It’s a sheet. There is a difference).

The key to an effective sign-up sheet is for the prospective members to sign-up for a specific group. If a sign-up sheet goes rogue and becomes a small group interest list, you end up with a super-sized sign-up card. When prospective members put their contact information on a specific group’s sign-up sheet, then the leader has a face, a name, an email address and a phone number. The leader can follow-up on an actual person who they have already met. And, that will happen.

Two little secrets about group sign-up sheets:

(1) Have the group leaders write a few actual names on the top five or six lines of the form. These could be existing group members or people they’ve invited to the group. Here’s why: No one wants to write the first name on a blank list. “What’s wrong with this group? Why doesn’t anyone want to join it?” Also, don’t write Daffy Duck or Mickey Mouse unless you really don’t want any new members.

(2) Use a two-part form. At the end of the connection, the leader can go home with the contact information to follow-up on their newly acquainted group members. The church office can have the other copy for boasting rights about what God has done. If the group leader is waiting on the church or vice versa, things break down quickly. No matter how good your assistant is, you just can’t turn around the information quickly enough.

5.       Your Groups May Not be the Right Groups

When you get to the last 30 percent of your congregation who hasn’t joined a group, you will soon discover that what connected the first 70 percent doesn’t work for last 30 percent. These folks fall into one of three categories: Independent, Introverted or Isolated. A great solution for some of these folks is an opportunity to start their own group.

Whether it’s just a couple of friends who meet for coffee every week or someone who prefers to lead a group off the grid, they need alternatives to the status quo of forming groups. Don’t get me wrong. Even independent groups need a coach and need to be part of the small group ministry. The coaching always starts with a relationship rather than an org chart.

6.       Would You Buy a Car Off of a Sign-up Card?

A small group connection event offers a personal touch. While you might order a cell phone case from Hong Kong over the internet, joining a small group is an emotional decision. “Will I be accepted? Will I feel welcome? Will I fit in?” These are big questions. The answers will determine whether the new member stays, even for a week. To personally connect with a prospective member before they’ve even attended the group goes a long way to a successful six week study and possibly beyond.

7.       Proven Results

Over the last seven or eight years, I have led dozens of small group connections for my church and have taught many churches to do the same. I have seen hundreds of our church members and thousands from other churches successfully connected to groups this way. I also know that while some new group members only committed to a six week study, a great number are still in the groups they joined years ago.  

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Allen White consults and speaks in the areas of small group strategy, staffing structure, volunteer mobilization, and spiritual formation. Allen is the author of Exponential Groups: Unleashing Your Church’s Potential. He blogs at http://allenwhite.org.