This is a series of insights gleaned from surveys and interviews with the most effective churches of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in reaching and keeping people.
10 Things That Make These Churches Different, (part #10)
#1 – Question #45: How important are starting new classes/groups to the health and growth of your church? What would you do if I told you that I’ve discovered the secret to having a healthy/growing church? And then if I told you that what I’ve discovered is guaranteed to work, what would you do? You would want to know! Well here is the answer, start new classes and/or groups. When the fastest growing churches in Georgia were asked the above question 39% responded that starting new classes/groups were very important, 33% said important and 28% responded extremely important. You don’t need to get your calculator because all that adds up to 100%. In other words, every one of the fastest growing churches agree that starting new classes/groups is important to the health and growth of their church.
Observation: These churches have also been able to instill the importance of classes/groups reproducing themselves and they’ve created a culture of multiplication. According to Question #46; “How receptive to starting new classes/groups are the members of your church?” 85% of the members in the fastest growing churches have a positive attitude toward starting new classes/groups. Starting new groups has become part of the culture of these churches. Its something that the members have grown to accept as a standard practice. The leaders did not give up when it was difficult in the beginning nor did they refuse to start a new group when one failed. This was not a seasonal or fad that was an emphasis for short period but rather it is a strategy that these churches have adopted and embraced.
What are some methods for starting new classes/groups that these churches have used?
- New Member class/group. The easiest method that they identified was to invite those that have joined the church and to teach a 6-8 week basic church member introduction. After the final session turn it into an ongoing class/group.
- Teacher & Apprentice Teacher process. My favorite is for the teacher enlist an apprentice teacher and during a 6-18 month period the apprentice becomes more of a co-teacher. The veteran teacher takes a few established group.
from the establish class/group to start a new group. The apprentice becomes the teacher of
- Gap or Bulge Identification. Some leaders have identified age groups that are not being reached by a class/group and they have begun new classes/groups to reach them. The opposite is also true in that they have identified a segment within a class/group that is increasing and started a new class/group.
- Hot Topics or Short-term Special Interest groups. Another approach used by these churches is the use a video driven curriculum or an expert special guest leader. The topics that are addressed are of interest to the community and are promoted in the community. At the conclusion of the short-term group they simply become an ongoing group.
- Connection Events. Following a worship service or special event those not currently involved in class/group are invited to attend the time fellowship and refreshments. They are encouraged to become involved with the new “connection” group and over time this group will become an ongoing class/group.
- Affinity, Niche or Target groups. These churches start classes/groups for bikers, hunters, runners, gardeners, etc. They also start groups for single parents, college age young adults, special needs adults, etc. These groups are already in your church and community they just need an opportunity to gather with godly purpose.
- Creative Place or Space groups. The members are encouraged to start new groups in creative places and spaces. They start new groups in the breakroom at work, the ballfield, the community room at the bank or apartment. They also find creative space and places on the church campus such as the kitchen in the fellowship hall or the conference room.
- Pastor’s class/group. The most important person in starting new groups is the pastor. The pastor leads the group for 6-8 weeks and at the end of the process he hands off the group to another leader. The new leader takes it and makes it another ongoing class/group.