One great way to connect your church into small groups is to focus on life transitions. More than at any other time in our lives, we need people when we’re going through periods of great change. Helping people join small groups during these times provides immediate comfort as well as the potential for years of ongoing support.
What transitions should your church use to connect people?
Significant events: Take a look at significant events in people’s lives. When you baptize several people at the same time, try to get them together in a small group.
After you hold a baby dedication, start a parenting small group. In your premarital counseling process, recommend that young couples join a small group. These events happen all the time in churches. Use them to help people build meaningful relationships.
Struggles: Pain motivates people to get connected with other people. No doubt about it. For example, many people are struggling with finances right now. Help them connect with others who are struggling in that area. You can find all sorts of great small group curriculums that deal with finances. Whenever we do a stewardship message at Saddleback, we give people an opportunity to find a small group that is studying what God’s Word teaches about finances.
Over the last few years, many men and women across the country have faced the struggle of going off to war. That’s a huge transition. These men and women are leaving their families, leaving their country, and facing death every day. At Saddleback we’ve tried to embrace that transition. We’ve been able to start a few small groups among those leaving for Iraq. These groups get the soldiers connected as they enter into one of the most difficult transitions of their lives.
You can also use stage-of-life struggles as an entry door into small groups. For example, we’ve connected groups around single parenting and blended families.
Spiritual steps: People are much more willing to join small groups when they are already making other significant spiritual steps. For example, when someone joins your church, they are obviously in a prime position to join a small group. If you have a new member class, make sure you talk about small groups and offer opportunities for people to join them during the class. You can do something similar for members who accept Christ or get baptized.
Seasonal beginnings: The calendar will also provide some ideal times for starting new groups. People are more open to adding things to their schedule when a new year starts and when the school year starts, so those are great times to launch new groups.
Starts and Stops: Starting up new studies with new curriculum can be a great way to launch new groups, particularly if the new curriculum hits a felt need in your community. New campaigns have always led to our most explosive growth at Saddleback. We started more than 3,000 small groups during 40 Days of Purpose. We started a bunch more with 40 Days of Community.
As you’re looking to connect more of your community in small groups, take a look at these different transition periods. God wants all believers to be engaged in authentic community, and often he uses change to see that happen.
Take a look at Steve’s book: Small Groups with Purpose: How to Create Healthy Communities