Small groups are an important part of your discipleship strategy. Since you want as many of your church members involved as possible, you need a reliable assimilation strategy that plugs people in as soon as possible.
The good news is it’s never too early to promote your small groups. Even visitors can benefit from learning about your small group ministry.
Here are five strategies for getting visitors plugged into a small group (or at least headed in that direction):
1. Expose them to your philosophy as early as possible
If you’re serious about assimilating visitors into small groups, it’s because you take this ministry seriously. Talk about why small groups matter as often and in as many places as you can.
It should be impossible for a guest to avoid hearing about your small groups. Here are a few places where visitors should learn about them:
- Your website
- Your church app
- Your bulletin
- Your pre-service slides
- Your announcements
We listed quite a few avenues for visitors to learn more about your church’s philosophy because it’s important to reduce the barriers that may exist and keep visitors from getting plugged in early. In fact, it’s one of the main ways churches discourage visitor engagement. Discover what your church can do it avoid this and other participation pitfalls in The Definitive Guide To Successful Church Engagement. Click here to download your free copy today!
2. Make small group leaders your frontline greeters
Small-group leaders should meet as many new people as possible on a Sunday morning. This gives them time to chat with visitors and find opportunities to build relationships.
The goal is to help connect visitors with people currently in a small group who share common interests or life experiences. If a leader discovers someone is really into hiking and there’s someone else in a group who’s an avid backpacker, then leaders should go out of their way to introduce them to each other. That connection can be the encouragement the visitor needs to show up at a mid-week group.
3. Encourage small group members to invite people
Growth is part of a healthy small group. For growth to happen, every group member should be asking others to come and take part.
The first visit is not too soon to say to a visitor, “We’re so glad you’re here. Some of us meet on Wednesday night to have dinner and talk about what we learned this morning. If that’s something you’re comfortable with, we’d love to have you.”
They might not take you up on it the first time, but if they come back, they probably will. Be bold about nurturing deeper levels of engagement by teaching your small group leaders who to effectively invite back newcomers.
4. Include small group info in a follow-up email
Hopefully getting people’s contact information is part of your visitor strategy. It’s a key to reaching out to them and inviting them back.
One of the follow-up emails can be a breakdown of your small group ministry strategy and a listing of where and when groups meet. If they each have a different emphasis, you can share those, too.
5. Offer volunteer opportunities through small groups
Believe it or not, visitors are looking for opportunities to get involved and serve on their first visit. They want to know if there’s a place for them to make a difference. That’s why the first visit isn’t too soon to share some of the volunteer ministries and outreach options.
If those opportunities are managed through your small groups, it’s just another way to connect people to small groups.
When a leader’s greeting someone and it comes up that they worked at their previous church’s food pantry, they can hook them up with the leader whose group is responsible for a similar ministry.
Get to Know Your Church through Small Groups
Typically, we expect people to hang out with our churches before they get involved with a small group. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re intentional about how you expose people to your groups, they can actually get to know your church through a small group.
And that just might be the healthiest way to build church commitment.
To learn more about how your church can build healthy visitor-centric small groups and grow community participation, download The Definitive Guide to Successful Church Engagement for free today!