The new year is a time when a lot of churches launch campaigns to help align their small groups around the same emphasis. The campaign gets everyone on the same discipleship page and builds excitement for being part of a small group. You can even go as far as including the students and kids ministries in the alignment. Producing a “whole church” study initiative is lot of work, but it can be worth it to have everyone going the same direction spiritually.
The campaign, however, will only be as successful as your planning allows it to be. Here are five important things to keep in mind as you think through your launch:
1. Have a post-campaign plan.
Even though this step is technically after the campaign ends, I am listing it first to think about—because this is where we can lose all of the momentum we built for the launch. The post-campaign study needs to be in place before your launch so it’s an easy transition for groups after the initial series. They will be more likely stay together as a group if there is a map forward beyond the first six weeks. Check out Disciples Path: The Journey for a great year-long discipleship map for your groups.
2. Take advantage of January to recruit leaders.
It’s tempting to launch groups as soon as possible in January. You feel like you will lose people if they have to wait a few weeks before getting into a group. Take that natural January energy and use it to recruit new leaders before launching your groups. Here’s why:
- It will build anticipation for groups starting soon.
- It gives you time to recruit and train enough leaders for starting new groups.
- February is a great month to start an all-church study
3. Utilize Facebook Live for new leader training .
According the latest social media trends by Pew Research Center, 79% of internet users are on Facebook. Instead of expecting leaders to come to you for training, go to where they are by hosting short, weekly training sessions on Facebook Live. Live is interactive, so they can ask clarifying questions during the session. You can keep the videos hosted on Facebook for group leaders to refer to later.
4. Use a felt need message series for your study.
People love to talk about themselves, and they will get more excited about being in a small group if the discussions give them a chance to explore practical needs in their lives. If the series is starting in February, a message series about relationships is a natural fit for the time of year (Valentine’s Day) and for starting easy conversations in groups. Just don’t leave out singles with a series for married people. Singles have relationships, too.
5. Allow time for groups to adjust as they start.
It doesn’t matter how much preparation you have put in before the launch, there will inevitably be groups that never get off the ground. It may be because of location, time, personality, or many other factors, but you have to be ready to adjust for those new leaders. Look for a way to combine groups in the same area, or ask the leaders to help another group for a semester before launching again in the spring.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 22 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He also manages SmallGroup.com for Lifeway Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was just released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.