Secrets of a Successful Small Group Launch

Mark Howell —  January 15, 2008
Secrets of a Successful Small Group Launch | SmallGroupResources

Want the scoop on how to launch small groups? Who doesn’t! After all, groups do more than provide the “optimal environment for life-change.” They also provide a very effective delivery system for ministry and mission.

So then the question might be, “How can you get groups going in a way that has the best chance of succeeding?”

And let’s come right out and say that there are lots of ways to get small groups going. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about getting them going in a way that has the best chance of succeeding…in a big way.

So how will we do it?  First, a disclaimer: In order for this strategy to work, your pastor’s commitment is absolutely essential. No getting around it. Without your senior pastor’s buy-in this plan is not effective. With that understanding, here are the five steps to a successful small group launch.

Step One: Schedule a weekend message series that passes the following tests:

  • At a strategic time (late January/early February, post-Easter, late September/early October).
  • On the right subject (a topic that is genuinely easy to invite friends to attend).
  • For the right length (Six weeks is just right).

Step Two:  Align a small group curriculum with your upcoming weekend message series that passes the following tests:

  • Curriculum is a “good-enough” match to the weekend series.  If 40 Days of Purpose was a “one-for-one” match, this has to be at least thematically aligned.
  • Easy to use.  Preferably a DVD-driven study that only requires an open home and someone to push play.

Step Three: Ask your members (and regular attendees) to consider opening their home to host a group.  If you’ve met the conditions of Step 1 and 2 they should be open to the idea.  When you ask them follow these guidelines.

  • Ask them in the context of a sermon, NOT an announcement.
  • Put together two or three sermons that talk about God’s heart for unconnected people (Matthew 9:36, 2 Kings 7:3-9, etc.). Use these messages as an opportunity to invite your congregation to open up their homes and host a group.
  • Give your congregation a way to respond to the invitation in the service (an insert to be filled out is the best way).

Step Four: Provide an adequate level of coaching for your newest leaders and begin as soon as they respond.

  • Invite them to attend an orientation where they can learn about what they volunteered to do.
  • Connect them with a coach at the orientation.
  • Use the coaches to establish and maintain weekly contact with every host.

Step 5:  Give your new groups something to do next that is similar in kind.

  • You’ve invited your congregation to “just open their home” and provided a curriculum that is easy to use.  What you give them to do next must have a very similar degree of difficulty.
  • Let your new leaders know what is next by week three of their first study.
  • Give any preexisting small group leaders the option to go back to their previously scheduled programming.

Ready to launch small groups in a way that has the best chance of succeeding…in a big way?  Just follow the five steps.  Need more help?  Why not schedule a coaching call? Sometimes an hour with a seasoned veteran makes a big difference!

Mark Howell

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One response to Secrets of a Successful Small Group Launch

  1. Very helpful article! We’re planning a fall promotion…this gives some solid tracks to run on. Thank you for these practical ideas!