If your church is blessed with over 1,000 weekly attendants, you're operating a sizable church! While having a large congregation means that you're reaching more people, it also means that you have to work harder to hold onto your sense of community.
Many people go to church because they enjoy the feeling of belonging to a community of like-minded believers. When they don't feel this sense of community, they may end up leaving. In fact, that is one of the top ten reasons people leave church - they can't find the community they are so desperately searching for. And in a church of over 1,000 people, community can be even harder to find.
For this reason, small groups are incredibly important and a crucial component to building that close-knit family we look for in our church community.
Without further ado, here are the good, better, and best ways to grow and fuel your large church’s small groups.
Put Small Group Info Online
When putting your small group information online, it can be helpful to put it up before the small group even starts. This way, people can find information and know which small group will best suit their needs.
- Good: Times, dates, locations, and descriptions on your church website.
- Better: That, plus showing recent activity on your site (so nobody thinks it’s static!)
- Best: Make your website a hub for communications, small group wins, recent activity, etc.
Putting the small group information online will also make it easier to communicate any changes that might occur. For example, if an emergency comes up and the small group leader has to cancel that week's meeting, or change the location, members will be informed.
Promote Small Groups for New Members
Chances are, new members aren't going to be aware of the small groups that will be starting up or that have already begun. For this reason, it's important to constantly be promoting your small groups.
- Good: Promote the small groups by mentioning them during the announcements before the Sunday sermon.
- Better: Promote the small groups on the church website and in the church's online bulletin.
- Best: Take advantage of social media when promoting your small groups, for example write up engaging posts on social media and encourage your members to like and share them.
It's crucial that new members feel like they have community at your large church, and small groups are a huge part of that. If new members don't know that these small groups exist, community will be hard to find. And, we know that when there's no community, people are more likely to leave.
Improve Engagement During Small Group Meetings
There is an excellent possibility you are going to have some introverts in your small group. These people might be uncomfortable around people they don't know very well or they may be too shy to speak up even when they do have some great insight. Since you want everyone to have an opportunity to share, it's important to focus on getting each of the small group members to engage with one another.
- Good: Hold small group meetings on a consistent basis.
- Better: Prepare group discussions in advance and send them out before hand to let participants know what to prepare for. This also lets those who are slower processors to have more time to come up with input. You can also provide food, games, or an ice breaker at the beginning of your small group that get people talking.
- Best: Plan hangouts or socials outside of your normal small group time that help members get to know each other better outside of a Bible study setting. The more comfortable people feel, the more likely they are to engage in deeper, more intimate discussions.
Be Clear About the Purpose of the Small Group
Potential small group members will want to know why they are going to be spending so much time together. They want to know why this small group exists. They also want to be assured they can both give and receive from being a part of it. Schedules are tight, lives are hectic, and people want to ensure they are making the most of their time, which is why it's crucial for people to know exactly what they're getting into.
- Good: Come up with a vision statement for your small group that defines the purpose of meeting together on a regular basis.
- Better: Expand your vision statement to include four or five key points that are backed up by scripture. For example, if your small group exists for the purpose of learning to spread the Gospel message, one of your points could be "go and make disciples," which is stated in Matthew 28:19-20.
- Best: Identify specific things you as a group can do to help accomplish your vision. This can be done by taking your key points and Scriptures and coming up with plausible ways to spread the Gospel, such as holding an outreach event in your community.
Being clear about the purpose of the small group will help to get people excited about getting involved, plus it will make every member feel that they too, have purpose.