Home > Uncategorized > How to plant a small group pt. 3: Recruit and Soft Launch

How to plant a small group pt. 3: Recruit and Soft Launch

This series is an edited version of a teaching manuscript the Small Groups Team at the Summit Church used in our first ever “how to plant a small group” seminar held in May of 2009. Read pt. 1 on “Motivation“ and pt. 2: “1. pray and 2. tell people.”

3. Recruit

Start with a core group
Its best to have 2-4 people  (couples count as one) who will agree to plant this group with you. These are the people who are willing to say “sink or swim I will be with it. And at the end of 6 weeks, if it tanks, the three of us will go to chili’s and have some laughs over it.” You and your core group, once established, are now on a mission to recruit the rest of the members of your group. We discourage you from taking the next step in recruiting before establishing your core. This really is the key element of starting a healthy, stable small group and most likely (though not necessarily) will come from your current small group*.

*One way to establish familiarity in the core group if you are all coming from the same existing group is to “subgroup” for discussion and prayer time. That is, have your core group still meet with the rest of your current group, but separate out into a different room or area for prayer and discussion.

Become intentional in your search

Start thinking about people from within your current small group, from within your campus, from within your circle of influence.  Don’t wait on your small groups staff to hand you a list of names. We’ve found people are much more likely to accept a personal invitation from someone they’ve met versus an email invitation from someone they were forwarded to by the church staff. Here are a couple of ideas to help jumpstart your search:

  • Serve in a ministry. First Impressions & Kids Ministry are probably the two most obvious spots. In these ministries you are weekly around people who are not yet in a small group. I’ve seen multiple new groups quickly fill up through the core group members serving as greeters and simply inviting people to their group. How simple!
  • Make a list. List 20 people you know that live in your area and do not have a small group that you know of. Have your core group to do the same! That’s anywhere from 60 to 100 people. Don’t limit yourself to those in your church. Reach out to your neighbors!

Be strategic in how you talk
If you walk up to someone on your list of 20 and say “I want you to be in a very intimate life-changing small group with me that will meet weekly for the next year and we will share life together” you likely get a restraining order put out on you. Sure you hope your group will develop some great friendships, even life-long ones, but you have the responsibility to meet people where they are. So instead of asking someone to commit to a year long small group the first time you speak with them, just gauge their potential interest. I’ve often asked someone “I’m thinking about starting a small group at my home and was wondering if you’d be interested?” That’s it. No commitment right there. It allows people the opportunity to respond. Whatever you say or do to gauge interest, remember that people are not as excited (yet) about this new small group as you are. Meet them where they are.

4. Soft Launch

Gather socially
Once you have done the legwork of recruiting people, it is time to take the next step in shaping your new small group. From here it is time to soft launch the group. The soft launch is a way for you to gather the people together who are interested in a social setting. The goal here is establishing who is actually interested in participating in your group versus those who may have indicated interest but cannot participate at this time. The soft launch can be one or two social gatherings you initiate over a month’s time to begin building relationships with these potential group members.

Be concise and clear
The “programming” of a soft launch should not be more than 5 minutes and should simply involve you addressing everyone (briefly) acknowledging you are hoping to begin a small group at your home soon and hope those present will consider joining you. You should give brief details and a clear reason why you want them to be a part and then stop talking. Remember, you are more excited than they are and you are bringing them along but they probably aren’t at your excitement level yet. So be excited, but don’t preach a sermon!

The details
Of course if you are going to give details, you will need those details firmed up. Establish an intended launch date. Important: While you need to set your small group meeting on a night available to you, acknowledge that you are open (if you are) to hearing from everyone what day will work best in their schedules. Also, let them know you are not looking for an indefinite commitment. Give them a short-term timetable (6-8 weeks) for them to think through.

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