Putting time boundaries on groups not only helps people grow, it also facilitates more eager sign-ups and takes the pressure off the system. Too often, in the Christian bubble we’ve created, we ask people to do things they would never be comfortable doing in other areas of their lives. In particular, we ask them to sign up for groups that have no definitive end date.
Can you imagine if you wanted to take a course at a local community center but couldn’t pin down any information on when it would be over? And, in fact, you got the feeling it might do on indefinitely? You probably wouldn’t sign up. Yet that’s exactly how most churches run their small group systems. They ask people to sign up for something that has no end in sight. That’s intimidating and unnatural for prospective group members. The reality is that most people (other than the most committed in your church) just won’t do it—especially men.
While women are a little more open, most men are skeptical about joining a small group. They don’t like the idea of being put in a room with people they don’t know. They don’t like the idea of sharing their feelings. They consider themselves to be extremely busy. As such, you can’t expect them to willingly make an ongoing commitment to an unknown commodity that has no end. Of course, any system will get some men to join, but most small group systems alienate the majority of them.
If you’re still unsure of the benefits of time-bound small groups, here are seven advantages:
- The groups have a clear beginning and end date.
- It is easier for people to make short-term commitments.
- Time is allotted for concentrated promotion and sign-ups.
- It is easier for new people to join a group when everyone is starting at the same time.
- There are more group options—new topics offered each semester.
- The groups match the rhythm of the academic calendar.
- Growth can occur through a stress-and-release cycle.
If you will put a specific end date on the group, you will be much more likely to get hesitant men—and women—to give it a shot.
– Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, with Jennifer Dykes Henson
The above excerpt is from p.55-56 of Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups.
Drawing from the startling success of small groups at The Journey Church, Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas debunk the myths, set the record straight, and show how church leaders can implement a healthy small group ministry that gets the maximum number of people involved and solves many of the important problems facing churches of all sizes. These practical strategies will produce life-changing results.
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