This is the first blog post in a series about starting a new small group in your community in the new year. Come back every Thursday in January for a new post!
“It just doesn’t work with my schedule right now.”
“I am interested, but I just can’t commit.”
“Just let me know when it gets started and I’ll figure out if I can join!”
How many times have you heard this from community members when you ask them to join a small group? Or a Bible study?
And how many times has this discouraged you from starting the small group or the Bible study, thinking “well maybe in a month it’ll be different; I’ll see if people have time.”
Here’s the harsh reality: People make time for what’s important to them. Yes, everyone has busy schedules with more responsibilities and requests on their time than ever before. But, when something makes their schedule, it’s because it’s important.
Build interest in your community with a small group or Bible study by making it important to your members.
Now you’re probably wondering, but how? I’ve tried before, and it always falls apart!
Here are three tips to get started in forming a new small group that will get interest:
Ask your community what they want
Often times, we hear about something new that piques our interest and automatically assume that everyone else would be interested in hearing about it, too.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Find out from your community what they would be interested in! You can post it on your social media, send an email out for members, or post a survey (you can easily make one for free with Google Forms!).
Keep it short and sweet; but ask them what they would be interested in studying and discussing. What day and time works best? Find out where they would like to do it, too; perhaps your church isn’t the best space.
Go with the majority and plan it
You will likely have some outliers – someone who has found said resource that piqued their interest and wants everyone else on board for it, too.
But take a look at the feedback that you get and go with the topic, location, and timing that works for most people that answered the request.
Now that you’ve got it narrowed down, start to plan it. Make sure you start the group far enough in advance for people to block off their calendars, but not so far off that they forget that it’s coming up.
Create an overall goal for the group; one that can get you started and clearly defines what people will get from participating, but one that you can further refine once your group gets together.
In addition to goals, set requirements for participation. Do people have to purchase any resources? What do they have to do to prepare for the first – and subsequent – group sessions? As a leader, what would you hope they contribute in each session?
From there, you’re ready to get started!
Announce it to your community
Don’t go back to the group that responded to the survey; your survey responses are generally going to be much smaller than the broader interest group.
Let everyone in your community know about the new small group (or insert how people would like to frame it!) that will be coming up. Give them a space to sign up, offer a spot for them to get more information, and invite them to ask friends to join them, too!
What other tips would you offer to leaders trying to build interest in a small group or adult Bible study? Share in the comments below!