Focusing Small Groups: Setting Your Calendar

The below excerpt is from my book Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups. This revised and expanded edition shows church leaders how to make their small groups work. 

Once you’ve evaluated your previous semester for small groups and made appropriate adjustments for future ones, it’s time to set your calendar for the next semester. Put every important date for the upcoming semester in writing on a master calendar that covers at least six months—from the focus month all the way through the end of that small group semester. I do this each July.

If you take the time to create a yearlong calendar, you won’t have to start from scratch when it’s time to set your calendar for the spring and summer semesters; you’ll just have to review and edit the yearlong calendar you’ve already established. Regardless of whether you choose to create a yearlong calendar at this point or start fresh for every semester, set all of your important group dates at least six months in advance. Here’s how.

  1. Start by putting the biggest dates on the calendar, including:
  • date for leader training
  • start and end date for the semester
  • date that sign-ups begin

2.  Next, put down dates for all the “less significant” items. Trust me, you need to get all of these on your calendar:

  • deadlines for asking and confirming small group leaders
  • dates for small group table at the weekend service
  • date that the group catalog and website need to be finalized
  • promotional email schedule (emails encouraging people to sign up)
  • small group leaders email schedule, including topics (these are weekly emails sent to leaders throughout the semester)
  • dates for weekend messages on small groups and/or relationships
  • dates for other small group focus sites during the Sunday services (dramas, videos, testimonies)
  • dates for team leader meetings and staff-led small group planning meetings

Carefully thinking through your calendar will pay off in a big way as you continue to develop the Activate system. For a complete sample calendar from The Journey, go to

 – Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, with Jennifer Dykes Henson

The above excerpt is from p.136-337 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.

P.S. – Click here to grab your copy from Amazon today!

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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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