3 Things You Need if you want to start a NEW GROUP

The right vision – Before starting a new group the most important question to answer is WHY? Just announcing the new class, finding a new teacher and assigning a room is important to starting new groups, but the real success comes from the why question. Why are you starting the new group? Who are you trying to reach through the new group? How will this help you to reach more people, disciple more people and develop more leaders?

The answer to the why question will be the clarion call to those willing to support the new group and those who will be interested in being a part of the new group. Remember, relationships are fundamental to the small group process but the objective is to make disciples who make disciples. To ignore one or the other is a recipe for disaster.

The right plan – Know your context. The right plan must understand the culture of the group you are trying to reach. I can honestly tell you that every group that I have helped to start was unique. There are principles that apply to every new group you start but the methods are many.

The right plan takes time to develop. Pray through it. Talk about it. Ask questions of existing groups. Discover those not attending a small group or class and probe their thoughts on starting a new class. Take the time to recruit the right leader. Develop the best curriculum plan and discover the best space possible to start the new group.

Great vision without a great plan is the definition of a disaster.

The right person – If God is leading you to start a new group, then He also has the right point person to be a catalyst to the beginning and continuation of the new group. (Hint: when I was on church staff, I kept a list of potential leaders on a sheet of paper that I kept in my Bible). Pray for God to show you the right person. Ask the person to pray for God to show him/her His desire for them and this new group. Spend time with them in prayer, planning and encouragement.

I can’t tell you the best way for you to start a new group but I know the one who does. God can and will lead you to make the best decisions in starting a new group. New groups are a must if you desire for, your church to be healthy and vibrant in your community. However, if you don’t start at least one new group every year, I can tell you that you are headed on a path to decline.

Pray right now and decide to be a catalyst in starting a new group.

Creating a Culture of Invitation in Your Small Group

Is your class or small group OPEN to new members? Is your class or small group EXPECTING new people to attend/join?

The answer to these two questions helps you determine whether or not your class or small group exhibits a “Culture of Invitation.” At the core of why your class or group exists is about making disciples. Our context is a small group of people, gathered around God’s Word and determined to accomplish His purpose. It’s about people. Our focus is on God and fulfilling His purpose, but our target is people. Use these suggestions to help your class or small group create a “Culture of Invitation.”

It starts before a guest or prospect arrives.

  • Assign someone to be primarily responsible for greeting and befriending any new guests.
  • Weekly remind members to invite friends, peers, co-workers and family to join them in Bible study.
  • Prepare the room for guests. Make sure the chairs are arranged so the guest will be comfortable and feel welcome.
  • Make sure you have enrollment cards, pens and name tags available. Additional Bible study books should be on hand to provide to guests.

When guests arrive…

  • Invite guests to sit in the best seats and surround them with people who are interested in them.
  • Collect accurate information for the purpose of follow up.
  • Invite them to join the class. You can enroll someone as a member just as easily as you can collect guest information.
  • Everybody wears a name tag. Use one color for guests and another for members.
  • Focus on getting to know the person, not just on completing tasks.
  • Invite guests to join you in worship. Ask them to sit with you and your family.
  • Invite guests to join you for lunch.
  • Be sure and introduce your guests to the Senior Pastor and other appropriate staff.
  • Assists with collecting children if they have preschoolers.

Follow up after a guests visit.

  • Make a phone call within 24 hours thanking them for their participation.
  • If they choose to join you, help them know what their next step would be.
  • Ask if you can add them to your mailing lists, email lists, blog, facebook or text group. If they requests to be removed, please honor their wishes.
  • Continue to make contact until they join and become active or they request to not be contacted anymore.

Share the Gospel: Why most people don’t!

37 “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 (HCSB)

I prefer the statement, sharing the Gospel with the lost rather than soul winning. The former is an objective that can be measured. The latter assumes that I am the one who wins souls; only God can do that. In the simplest of terms, God has commanded me, as a believer, to make disciples. The starting point for all disciples is a relationship with Christ. But how can those who are lost know the Savior unless someone tells them?

Fear, apathy, selfishness, anger, bitterness, lack of confidence are some of the reasons people give as to why they don’t share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Research shows us that the majority of Christians have not shared the gospel with anyone. Of those precious few who have, thank God.

I have a simple answer to those who have not shared; Just do it. If you don’t know how, ask someone to show you how. If you lack confidence, ask someone to go with you. If you don’t know anyone, ask someone else who they know. Just go. Just share.

Sharing the gospel is hard work. It requires two things as indicated in Matthew 9:37-38; Pray and Go. It really isn’t complicated. I know, I know, you want to know what happens if you don’t do it right. I admit, there is some truth to that but remember that salvation is the work of God not us.

Commit to these 4 things. If it helps you to remember, this is the 3151 commitment.

  • Pray for at least 3 lost people every day, by name.
  • Learn at least 1 gospel presentation.
  • Invite at least 5 people to your Sunday School or Small Group.
  • Share the gospel with at least 1 person.

For more tools and resources for the 3151 commitment, go to www.louisianabaptists.org/connect1/.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Every year, I receive an Annual Church Profile Statistical Information Booklet. This little booklet illustrates the results of the work of our churches throughout Louisiana. The numbers I am drawn to relate to Sunday School and Discipleship Attendance and Enrollment. These numbers are not a “complete” picture of what is going on in our churches throughout the state, but they do show us some trends.

Enrollment is Down

There are fewer people enrolled in Sunday School or small groups now than there were 10 years ago. Actually, the trend is much longer than that. Enrollment can best be illustrated as our “ministry field”. Every week, our class or group has the opportunity to minister to a specific number of people; some of those actually show up each week. Every year, with some exceptions noted, our trend is that there are fewer and fewer people in our “ministry field”. At a time when our population grows, we are having an impact on fewer people’s lives.

Attendance is Down

With a shrinking “ministry field” comes fewer people attending each week. In case you haven’t noticed, classes/groups will average between 40-60% of its enrollment. It is increasingly harder and harder to get church members to not only join a small group or Sunday School class; it is also harder to get them to attend regularly.

The Good News

On the flip side of those numbers is the fact that more and more people value biblical community and want to learn and grow spiritually. People want to “belong.” Connecting new people and lost people to a small group or Sunday School class is one of the most difficult challenges our churches face today. And yet, there are lots and lots of people who wish to experience that on a regular basis.

What do I do?

Start small. The first thing you should decide is to focus more on people than your role or your responsibilities. The object of our ministry is to connect people with God and His people. We all want and need family. Being a part of a family takes a lot of time and hard work. Focus on things that matter the most – prioritize.

PRAY and OBEY

The most important thing you can do right now is to stop and pray that God would reveal to you as a leader how you can reach more people, love more people and disciple more people. He is waiting to lead you in the right direction. BUT, He is waiting on you to actually do what He asks you to do.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (HCSB)

Numbers don’t lie. When we are faithful to plant, water and tend to all the things God asks us to do; then, when He is ready—He will give the increase.

Want to see your ministry field expand? Want to see more people regularly engaged in bible study and ministry? Pray! Obey! And SEE God do great and mighty things.