The 7 Advantages of Time-Bound Groups

  “There are seven advantages to putting time boundaries on groups: 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 with sign-ups. It’s easier for new people to join a group when everyone is starting at the same time. There are more group options – … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Adapting a Cultural Norm for Maximum Small Groups Success

  “Taking a cue from the early gospel spreaders, my team and I asked an unusual question as we built the Activate system: What current cultural norms can be adapted to help give small groups momentum and success? The most obvious answer is the academic calendar. Our culture is defined by its educational system. People adhere to the flow of … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

The Pastor’s Role in Small Groups

  “Remind yourself often that you cannot engineer deep relationships in your groups. That’s not your job anyway; it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Your job is to create effective social spaces where people can meet new friends and learn about God with like-minded others. When you do that, the personal and intimate relationships you want your people to … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Gauging the Success of Small Groups

  “Let your group leaders know what success looks like. Make sure they don’t feel any pressure to create deep relationships between group members. Don’t let them think that if everyone isn’t crying together, sharing intimate details of their lives, or getting together outside of group meetings, they have failed. They haven’t. Teach your leaders that their small group is … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Successful Groups Have Specific Dates

  “Have specific beginning and end dates for your small groups. At The Journey, our groups last ten to twelve weeks. This gives people the freedom and flexibility to make a commitment they can stick with. Then, if a few people connect and become good friends, they can choose to be in a group together again the next semester. Inevitably, … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Think Friends, Not Intimacy

  “The time has come to address the elephant in the room – to give a voice to the truth we’ve all been avoiding: Small groups are not the best place for intimate relationships to form. Instead, they are a place to form new, basic friendships. This doesn’t lower the bar for groups in any way. When it comes to … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Think Big for Small Groups

  “Groups of seven or fewer people have a significantly higher failure rate, produce less fruit, and cause everyone involved more frustration and anxiety than larger groups. The solution is simple: encourage bigger groups. Allow up to twenty people to sign up for each of your groups. By allowing this many people to sign up, your projected number of actual … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

Larger Small Groups are More Effective

  “Sometimes small groups can be too small. Groups with seven members or fewer are difficult to lead and more likely to fail, while groups of twelve to fifteen  are more effective at fostering healthy relationships and encouraging spiritual growth. Many leaders mistakenly think that larger groups lose their intimacy, make meaningful relationships harder to cultivate, and frustrate members who … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

The Right Question to Ask if You Want to Grow Your Small Groups

  “When you set up a small group system with your committed churchgoers in mind, you inevitably create a process that makes it easy for members and regular attenders to get signed up or signed up again. And yes, this is a problem. When something seems like second nature to your regulars, there’s a good chance that people who are … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups

100% Adult Participation in Small Groups is Possible!

Thank you to Bookshout for their recent 5-star review of the revised and expanded Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups. Kerrick Thomas and I wrote this book together with the goal of helping churches build a small groups system that motivates 100% adult participation. We’ve been using these principles here in NYC for the last 16 years and regularly see … Read More


Nelson SearcySmall Groups