Leading a small group or Bible study can be one of the most rewarding choices you make—pouring into others, fostering community, diving into God’s Word and the opportunity to hone your leadership skills. Small groups are places where people are pastored, encouraged, loved on, and do life together… when people show up.
On occasion, creating and growing a healthy small group or thriving adult ministry can feel challenging. Maybe your group is having a case of the:
Or Why-won’t-they-come virus.
You’re not alone. Many small groups, Bible studies, churches, and ministries wrestle with these issues:
Here are steps to take to encourage people to join your small group (and stay plugged in): [Tweet this]
1. Pray. It’s easy for our identities to get wrapped up in what we’re doing—even organizing a small group or ministry. Instead, ask God to remind you who you are in His eyes—that no matter how many or how few people attend, you are rooted in his love. That the ultimate goal is to love God and love others. [Tweet this] As you decide what curriculum to use and map out the details of each group meeting, spend time in prayer ensuring you are listening and following God’s lead first and foremost.
2. Create a Pull Rather Than a Push: All too often, when advertising and promoting a small group or ministry, we come across as though we’re asking, pleading, and at the worst moments, begging people to come. We’ve all sat through announcements where someone uses words like “Please, please, pretty please” and “We really, really need you there.” That kind of marketing produces what I like to call a push. You’re pushing people to attend or sign up. But instead of pushing people toward your event, I’d like to challenge you to think of how you can create a pull.
What can you say to make people want to sign up and bring all of their friends? What’s going to encourage them to want to sign up the very first time you mention the small group and not wait until the last minute? What can you do to create a pull for your small group? What can you do to create a sense of urgency? Remember a push says, “You must come!” but a pull will make you believe it.
3. Use All-Play Curriculum. One of the deterrents in attending a small group can be the amount of homework or reading needed to keep up. When people can't keep up on reading or homework, they may be too discouraged to attend at all. That’s where all-play curriculum comes in, meaning that if someone doesn’t get to the homework, they can still dive into the group time. (I’m pretty passionate about this, which is why ALL of our Bible studies are designed this way.) No one needs to feel left out! But of course, those who dive into the homework and reading will always get more out of the study.
Establishing that a group as all-play may encourage people to join and continue to come each week, getting to the homework and reading when time permits.
4. Plan a Party. It’s no surprise that lots of people will come to a fun get together but flake when it comes to meeting each week. Don’t be discouraged—they may be testing the waters, building relationships, seeing how they fit in, and gauging the time they have to commit to a small group. Continue to offer monthly parties or hang-outs and encourage people to invite their friends, neighbors, and co-workers. This could include a barbecue at the local park, a painting class, or a trip to a baseball game. As people feel more comfortable, they may be more willing to commit long-term.
5. Set the tone. As you launch and begin your small group, members will automatically look to you and follow suit. If you want people to be invested and come each week, make a point to do so yourself (as circumstances allow). If you want people to be diving into the material, be sure to set aside time to read ahead, gather a list of conversation starters, and prepare any experiential activities ahead of time.
As you take the plunge into leading a small group, let me personally encourage you: Thank you for loving Christ’s Bride and continuing to further the Kingdom. Our team would love to know how we can be praying for your small group or ministry. Click here to add your request to our prayer wall.
Here are a few more articles about small groups that may be of some help to you:
- 5 Secrets to Building a Small Group You Can Be Proud Of
- 3 Things to Do When People Leave Your Small Group
Do you have any tips for what has worked for leading your small group? What advice do you have for new leaders?
Are you a Bible study leader, attender, or organizer? Gain access to a DVD Bible study sampler by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll receive access too video and workbook samples from all of Margaret's DVD Bible studies.