Do you or do you not believe that moving people into Sunday School/small groups is an essential part of your church's ministry philosophy? If you believe it is optional, then it will show. It will impact everything you do as a church.
Andy Stanley and North Point Community Church determined that they wanted to move people from worship to small groups (community groups) and from small groups to ministry. They then focused energy and effort into those transitions: how to move people into small groups and how to move people into ministry. What are you doing to push and pull people into Sunday School/small groups?
I can already hear objections to the terms, "push" and "pull." In advance, I am not using those terms literally. In fact, I read an interesting article entitled New Members into Small Groups that answered the question, "How do I get new members into a small group?" The article used the terms, "push" and "pull," to describe two ways respond to that question. In the article, "push" is used to focus on "helping to place people into small groups." "Push" is used to focus on "encouraging small groups to work toward filling their own vacancies." Let's talk about ways to "push" and "pull" people into Sunday School/small groups.
PUSH: HELPING PLACE PEOPLE INTO GROUPS. What is your church doing to help people find their place in a group? The article listed four options including having people...
- Sign up for a group that is listed in a book.
- Sign up at a small group table.
- Sign up on the internet.
- Attend a "connection" meeting. For the sign up efforts, the article encouraged people to investigate and attend three groups while church leaders also contact group leaders to contact these interested people. For the connection meetings, people are invited to a meeting with other unconnected but interested people. They are seated at tables by "geographic, age, or other affinity criteria." A small group orientation is given along wtih icebreaker, leadership, and pastoral questions. Through discussion, a "relative leader" for the table is chosen. It is proposed that each table for a group for six weeks and that the group choose a leader (usually the "relative leader"). The leaders chosen are interviewed and given temporary guidance over the six week period.
- Each of the above would be announced from the pulpit (check out Moving Worshippers into Sunday School/Small Groups), be accompanied by a testimony (check out Sunday School Testimony: Powerful Revolutionary Tool), and happen regularly (at least monthly or as new groups are launched). People manning each of the options could be leaders for new groups. Another option would be personal contact by phone, visit, or e-mail to talk about group options available to the individual. Regularly start new classes on campus (check out Your Sunday School Class Can Reach Hundreds in Ten Years and Is It Time to Start a New Sunday School Class?) and off campus (check out Each One Start One: Off Campus Bible Studies) and invite people to join them!
PULL: GROUPS FILLING THEIR OWN VACANCIES. The second way the article listed for getting people into your group is to "pull" them. The bottom line is to mobilize class members to ask and recruit people to visit the group. If they don't visit, they won't join. I like what was said in a Small Group Training Manual on page 63, "You must intentionally teach the fish, the people, how to be fishers of men and women." Here are some strategies:
- The article mentioned a strategy called the open chair. This strategy involves only having chairs enough for group members present plus one, point to the open chair, and asking group members to identify a person they will pray for and invite to fill the open chair next week or this month.
- Another method mentioned by Josh Hunt is giving Friday night to Jesus. In this strategy, group members invite prospects to their home for food and fun, to a class fellowship, to class, and to Jesus. Invite them to a party (check out Reach and Assimilate People into the Kingdom Through Sunday School Fellowships and Ten Values of Monthly Sunday School Fellowships)! Also, consider Sunday School Outreach: Giving Sunday Night to Jesus.
- Set and pursue goals (check out Set God-Sized Goals for Sunday School Growth) for contacts, guests, attendance, and new members.
- Teach them to share a Sunday School/small group testimony (see above link) in casual conversation.
- Add prospect names from worship to care groups (check out Care Groups: Prayer, Ministry, Assimilation, Invitation) for them to contact, pray with, care for, and invite to class fellowships and to class.
There are lots more ways to "push" and "pull" people to your groups. Is one working well for your group or ministry as a whole? Press Comments below and share it! Invite people. Be revolutionary!