Churches who are starting small groups need a plan. A small group campaign is a great way to get small groups off the ground. Mark Howell, LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist and founder of SmallGroupResources.net wrote a great article on Top 5 Keys to Starting New Groups — Lots of New Groups for Churchleaders.com
Here are a few ways The City can help you put his strategy into practice.
1. Schedule a church-wide campaign or alignment. A campaign that aligns the topic of your weekend message with the small group study allows your senior pastor to say, “In order to get everything possible out of our upcoming series, you need to be in a group that is using the study that goes along with my message.”
The City’s Solution: The City can be a connection point between your people and the message God has given you. It creates another space where people can connect with the sermon series and the church, naturally, in the context we’re all living in. The City helps your church gather up the disconnected pieces of modern life and knit them together into one complete whole. When that happens, everyone in your church starts to belong, to give and receive, to move together in one direction, and it’s powerful.
2. Choose a topic that is appealing to unconnected people. I don’t think I can overemphasize this point. The topic you choose needs to appeal to the people you are trying to connect!
The City’s Solution: The City can be used to broadcast a wide or focused stream of communication. Setting your communication in the context of the daily life and ministry of your church helps you engage your people and cut through the general noise of the web. The City is a chance for Multi-Directional Interaction. You don’t just talk at people, you talk with them. Communication in The City is interactive, enabling the people and communities of your church to connect more deeply with each other in life and ministry, even directly from email.
3. Ask your congregation for a 6-week commitment. This is very important. If you want to help unconnected people take a first step, you’ve got to give them a reasonable first step to take. 6 weeks. Short enough to seem realistic. Long enough to begin to form connective tissue with the others in their group.
The City’s Solution: You can use the internal communication features to broadcast communication to everyone in your church during those 6 weeks. Write your message and it’s posted to The City and sent by email. Church-wide communication floats to the top of everyone’s News Feed, so it’s easy to keep your whole church connected to the mission. It also offers Targeted Communication, making it simple to target communication to just the right people, without flooding anyone’s inbox.
4. Give unconnected people an easy way to respond. Depending on the size of your congregation, there are several options. Although you can include an insert in your bulletin, I’ve found it preferable to give prospective members a way to join a group without a middleman. A small group fair with booths for every group, an online small group finder or catalog, on-campus connecting events like a small group connection or Group Link are all ways that allow direct access.
The City’s Solution: A first time visitor signs up for The City after speaking to a few people at the church. When they get home, they check it out. Since they’re new, they only see the church-wide stuff — weekly updates, church-wide events, maybe a lively discussion of the week’s sermon. They may not jump into the discussion right away, but they’ll get a personal glimpse of your church living as a community.
The City is just another tool ACST provides to make ministry happen. Leaders can customize promotions so that the only advertisements your people will see inside The City are the promos you create. It keeps groups moving. It’s easy to upload your custom artwork and even target your promotions to specific demographics, and your promos will display in The City and in emails sent from The City. We’ll even track the number of views and clicks for you! It’s a great tool for small group creation, promotion, and maintenance.
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV, and as LifeWay’s Small Group Specialist. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor’s Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com. More from Mark Howell or visit Mark at www.MarkHowellLive.com/about/