Exponential Outreach

Mark Howell —  January 4, 2008

Does who you invite to host a small group make a difference?  Clearly.  I’ve included a diagram that I hope will help you think through the question.  Take a look:

Here’s how to read it.  First, the circle represents your Easter or Christmas Eve attendance.  Most places that is the best attended service all year.  Even if you’re not a big outreach church, you’ll still have 130% of your average weekend.  If outreach is big for you, you’ll have much higher.  The other thing the circle represents is all (or at least more) of the adults that might be in your auditorium over the course of an average month.  If you’re like most of us, your people aren’t there every Sunday.  They come 2 or 3 times a month.

Second, the square represents all the people who are connected at your church.  That is, the ones who are already in a small group, a Sunday school class, serving in a ministry, etc.

In the example, there are 2000 adults in the Easter services and there are 500 adults who are connected.  We don’t know how many adults are there on average, but say lets say there are 1400.

Now, think about what happens when you invite someone from inside the square (connected) to host a small group.  If you ask them to invite their friends…who would they invite?  People from inside the square, right?  Isn’t that who their friends probably are?  Other people from inside the square?

What if you invite the people who are barely connected to host a small group?  Who are they likely to invite?  Other people in the circle?  I think it actually would be people outside the circle!  Think about that!  What if everyone you asked to host a group invited 8 of their friends to join the study?  And what if those 8 came from outside the circle?  Oh, you’d have all kinds of problems.  But they’d be really good problems!

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at MarkHowellLive.com (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.

How Often Should We Meet?

Mark Howell —  January 4, 2008

I get asked this question a lot.  And it’s a good question.  People ask it out of a genuine interest in doing the right thing.  Mostly it’s asked by leaders or hosts of newer groups.  But it’s also sometimes asked by group members who are hoping for a particular answer.

My answer is always the same.  Your goal should be “more often.”  That is, you should have a goal to meet more often.  Why?  Because the more often you get together, the more likely that your group will really form the kind of bond that produces life-change.  The reasons for it are fairly obvious, but let me list a few of them.

First, when you’re just getting started it takes about 6 meetings for people to begin to feel like they’re connected.  They’ve had enough exposure to each other to start to hear the real underlying truth.  And that’s helpful.  But 6 meetings is still just 6 meetings, no matter how you slice it.  And that’s not quite enough to really cement the connections that are beginning to develop.  It seems that it take 12 to 18 meetings for a deeper sense of familiarity to form; a commitment to each other and a willingness to make the group a priority.

A second reason for a more frequent meeting pattern is that when a person misses a meeting and their group is only meeting twice a month, it will be a full month before the group meets again.  That’s too long!  They’ll have to reintroduce themselves!  A sense of connection and a closeness that develops can quickly deteriorate if there are too many missed meetings.

Perhaps the most important reason for meeting more frequently is that we’re designed by God for this kind of connection.  The idea that we would anonymously attend the weekend worship service and all it a week is not God’s idea of the depth of commitment we ought to have with each other.  It is impossible to read the New Testament and not come away with the idea that we’re to be deeply connected with each other.  In fact, when the Apostle Paul wrote about it he often used words that described the way body parts were connected.

So the question might be, “how can we meet often enough to really connect in that way?”  Another might be, “how can our meetings have the kind of vitality that leaves me feeling I don’t want to miss ‘em!”  Let’s talk about that next.  For now, let’s just say you need to meet frequently enough to be sure you’re deeply connected.

Note: All 11 of the blog posts here are from 2008. The other 450+ are over at MarkHowellLive.com (where I add 3 to 5 new posts a week). Click here to check it out.