In our first blog post in this series, we talked about how you can build interest in your community to host a new small group; and in our second, we offered key dos and don’ts for forming your small group. Missed them? Read the first post and second post now!
So, things are trucking along in your small group and you’ve had a great response! People are enjoying the conversation and the topics at hand, and you are patting yourself on the back for making it such a success.
Just like the senior slide in high school, you’ll inevitably to see some of the same in your small group. Attendance will start to dwindle as new priorities unfold in your participants’ lives; whether it’s a new sport for their kids, a book club with friends, or just a different activity that will steal time away from the small group.
But, what can you do?
How can you make sure that small group stays as the first priority on their calendar?
I’m sure you’ve read the same tips before – make sure you have food, tell people to bring a friend, give them ownership in the goals for the small group – but what if that’s enough? What if you see the slide in your small group attendance?
Before you get to that point, make sure you are including the following in your small group as they help to keep people interested and making the small group a priority for their calendars:
Make session goals and content clear
At the end of each session, give participants a preview of what they can expect for the following week. What topics will be covered? How can they contribute?
Giving clear expectations – including goals and content overviews – gives participants the opportunity to be on board before they even commit. They can start to think about what they can learn, or even share, in that next session, helping to increase the excitement and participation factor.
Give responsibility to participants
It’s easy to choose not to attend something if you think, it doesn’t really matter – I don’t think anyone will notice that I’m not there. Give people an opportunity to take responsibility in the sense that if they don’t show up, the small group will be in trouble!
Perhaps someone leads it one week; or they are responsible for sharing a personal story related to the session. This also offers a new learning experience for participants as they grow as a leader, too.
Engage with them personally
If attendees feel like they’re just another body in the room and not appreciated by the leader or other participants, your small group attendance will likely suffer.
Communicate with participants – whether by email, text, or even a phone call – to let them know much you value their attendance and the perspectives they bring.