Being a small-group leader can be overwhelming. Deciding when and where to meet, finding people for your group, connecting with new group members, communicating with the group…is your head spinning yet?
Don’t panic. Launching your new small group well can be boiled down into three simple principles: Start, Fill, and Keep. Think about it like a three-legged stool. It can only stand if all three legs are of equal strength and equal length. In order for your small group stool to stand, all three legs (Start, Fill, and Keep) must likewise be equal strength and equal length.
Starting is about preparing for the launch of your group and begin taking action. Filling is about finding people for your group. And keeping is about creating a group where people want to remain for the long haul. If you don’t focus enough attention on one or more of these three legs, your stool will ultimately come crashing down.
Starting your group well is about just that…starting. The problem is that many people aren’t ready to start doing life in a group because a solid start requires a focus on self discovery, personal growth, supporting others, and getting outside our comfort zones for the bigger more important vision. Getting started is about taking a leap of faith and taking action even when everything’s not perfect, and how you’re going to pull it off isn’t clear. Fear and procrastination are dream killers! Don’t hesitate, get started now!
Sadly, some small-group leaders think, “If I build it, they will come.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Filling out a form, attending a meeting, and putting your group information on a list is not a guarantee that people will come to your group. So how do you fill your group with people?
First of all, take ownership of filling the group. Don’t leave it to anyone else. No one will care more about filling your group than you, so own that responsibility. Secondly, adjust your expectations. Resist the idea that a successful group has 20 people. The standard is two, three, or more. If two or three are all you are able to recruit, thank God for the group he’s given you!
Once you have owned the responsibility for filling your group and managed your expectations, you should consider following steps:
- Get Creative: Make invite cards. When you invite someone to the group, make sure you give them something tangible that tells them when and where your group will meet.
- Model Success: Look around for existing groups who are successfully doing what you’re trying to do. Learn from them, and if possible lock arms with that group and begin sharing ideas or even doing things together.
- Look Within: The next step is to ask yourself, “Who do I already ‘group’ with?” Ask the people you are already spending time with to help you grow the group with personal invites, event coordination, and preparations.
Filling your group may take you outside your comfort zone, but that’s a good thing. That stretching may be the next important step in your own development.
Keeping people in your group is about creating relationships. If the relational bond is strong, your group will be able to weather tough times and people will be less likely to jump ship.
The first important factor for keeping people is communication. Technology is a tremendous help with this. Copying the entire group via email is a simple, yet effective, communication tool. Starting a Facebook group and having everyone communicate via social media is also very effective. The bottom line is that people need and want to know what’s going on. When people feel like outsiders, they are more likely to leave your group.
The second key for keeping people in your group is being on mission together. Groups who serve the lost together, stay together. This is what I call the “Band of Brothers Effect.” Something interesting happens in wartime: those who are in combat together share a unique and unbreakable bond.
Make no mistake—the members of your group are involved in a spiritual and emotional war, and nothing is more uniting for a group than to reach out to a dying world together. We see this clearly in the way that Jesus led his own small group. When he recruited his disciples he called them to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He called the 12 to an active, on-mission-discipleship. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of missing out on this key ingredient of keeping people in your group. Mission is absolutely necessary.
If I can help support your mission in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Together We Are Strong!
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