Top Tips for Transitioning to Semester Based Small Groups

The Small Groups IntensiveSome of most commonly asked small group Questions come from those who are interested in (sometimes in the middle of) transitioning their existing traditional small groups to the Activate, semester-based groups system.

We’ve asked Roy Mansfield – Pastor of Spiritual Development at Northstar Church in Panama City, Florida – to share what he has learned through the process of transitioning to Semester-Based Small Groups.  Enjoy:

Top 4 Learnings in Transitioning From Traditional to Semester Based Small Groups

I’ve had the privilege of transitioning a church with traditional Sunday School to Semester Based Small Groups.

We grew from about 5% of our weekly Sunday attenders in Sunday School to 106% of our weekly Sunday attenders in Small Groups.

Here’s my top 4 learnings from the transition:

1) Make sure the Lead Pastor is fully committed to becoming a church of small groups.

If the church’s lead pastor does not see the vital importance of you becoming a church OF small groups instead of a church WITH small groups the impact of small groups in your church will never be maximized. Here’s two tests to see if your Lead Pastor is fully committed:

  1. Is the Lead Pastor participating in and/or leading a small group?
  2. Does the Lead Pastor regularly weave stories of his (and others) small group experiences in the weekend messages? CLICK HERE to get a copy of The book “Activate” that will further explain the benefits of becoming a church of small groups.

2) Launch semester based small groups with a church wide campaign

If your first small group semester is linked to a church wide campaign where the weekend teaching (and other ministries) are connected to your small groups it has the potential to build a great deal of extra momentum. CLICK HERE to see an example of an effective church wide campaign.

3) Launch semester based small groups as an “experiment.”

Especially if you have people who are having a good experience in traditional, ongoing (i.e. “I’m in this small group until Jesus comes back”) small groups, you will get pushback on the idea of “taking a break” for a month 3 times a year.

Let them know that you are going to try a semester of small groups during your church wide campaign.  Be prepared to make a decision about half way through your church wide campaign.

In the middle of the excitement of your campaign let people know that things have been going so well that all of the groups are going to take a break for a month after the campaign to sign people up for the next semester.

4) Every person must sign up for a group every semester

Do not allow leaders to present their group as “already full” when group sign ups begin.  Some leaders will say that all of their group members from the last semester want to stay together so they do not have any more room in their group.

Let the leaders know that you always ask everyone to sign up for a group each semester so there is always an opportunity for new people to get plugged into a group.

P.S. For everything you need to build an effective semester-based small group system check out The Small Group Intensive

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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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