Answering Your Small Group Questions — Question 2 — What if a group doesn’t get enough sign ups?

Kerrick Thomas here again. Today, I’m continuing to answer the most common questions Nelson and I get about small groups. In addition to being the Executive Pastor of The Journey and co-author of Launch and Activate, I handled small groups at The Journey until not too long ago. Even though we’ve now passed that responsibility on to a Small Groups Pastor, I still take an active interest in making sure that we run and share a Small Groups System that works!

This week’s posts are my attempt to help you take your groups to the next level. If you missed Question #1 (What about childcare?), make sure you look back to Monday’s post. Here’s Question #2…

Question #2: What if a small group doesn’t get enough sign ups? We have a few small groups where just a handful of people signed up and I’m afraid the groups aren’t going to make it. What should we do?

When you do semester-based small groups, where people get to join the group of their choice every semester, you will inevitably have some groups that don’t get a lot of sign ups. But it’s not the end of the world.

The first step you should take is to figure out why the group has not filled up. Then, you’ll have a better idea how to correct the situation.

Here are three of the most common reasons groups get low sign ups and what you can do to turn things around:

Reason 1: Inconvenient Time or Location and/or Poor Topic Choice – Is the time or area of the meeting not convenient to the majority of your people? Is the book to be studied not something that’s resonating with your culture? These concerns pop out about a few groups every semester.

Solution 1: If you catch this issue early enough, you can make some necessary changes. Ask the group leader to move the meeting location to a more convenient place, choose a better time or reconsider the book to be studied. If it’s necessary, you can even postpone the start of that new and improved group for a few weeks to give more people a chance to sign up.

Sometimes if two groups have low sign ups and they are planning to meet on the same day or are geographically close to one another, you can combine the two groups to make one good sized group.

Reason 2: Lack of Leader Promotion – Has the leader been personally inviting people to join? Has she been volunteering to work the groups information table at the weekend service? Sometimes the problem is connected to a leader who hasn’t done a good job of promoting his or her own group.

Solution 2: Encourage the leader to start taking steps to promote the group. He can ask his friends to sign up, reach out to others in the church that he knows, or serve on a Sunday to help get word about his group.

Reason 3: Flawed Sign Up System – Are people having a hard time figuring out how to sign up for a group? If you are seeing low sign ups in several of your groups, there could be a system problem.

Solution 3: Take a hard look at the structure and implementation of your Small Groups System. Read Activate: An Entirely New Approach To Small Groups again! We’ve put a system in place that can help ensure the success of your groups.

Unfortunately, sometimes there is no solution when a group’s sign ups are falling short. There are times when you just need to call it off. The most important thing in this scenario is to keep the leader encouraged. Let him know that these things happen and it is not a reflection on him. If you think the leader has potential, encourage him to try again next semester.

Check back tomorrow for the answer to another small groups question! I bet it’s one you have asked yourself…

Kerrick

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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