FIRST-PERSON: A New Year's challenge for small groups
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- When a church begins new small groups or Sunday School classes, eternity is impacted. New hands are put to the task. Easy entry points are established.
Members are more likely to invite lost friends. Peripheral members become involved. And Christians joyfully rediscover the outreach purpose of the church.
Imagine what would happen if your church began lots of new classes this year. Need some fresh ideas?
-- Life changes offer opportunities for new classes. Provide a small group for expectant parents or engaged couples. (They will evolve into new parents’ and newlyweds classes.) How about a class for recent retirees or college students? If your youngest adult class has aged a bit, add a new class for younger adults.
-- Your church ministries may provide opportunities for new small groups. Example: A church with weekday childcare could invite those parents for a new class.
-- Consider establishing a new small group for each decade of adults. Fresh new classes attract newcomers and others who do not currently attend. Provide a list of new members who aren't active in a small group, as well as recent guests and uninvolved church members. Advertise the new class in your community.
-- Look at growing areas in your church. If the youth group is exploding, you might begin new small groups for parents of middle or high school students.
-- Look at "holes" in your current attendance. What groups of people are uninvolved? What segments of your community are untouched? What types of new classes would include overlooked people? Example: About a third of adults in your town are unmarried (see www.census.gov). Are you organized to reach them?
-- Kick off a targeted new group with a themed study. For example, if there are lots of artists in your town, the class could begin with a short study of biblical art.
-- Ask church members to submit suggestions about needed small groups along with ideas for leaders and names of people that might attend.
-- Challenge current classes to multiply themselves. The current teacher shares responsibilities and helps train a co-teacher, and then some group members go with that teacher to begin a new class. Small groups in our church plant are committed to reproduce regularly, and 24 new Christians have been baptized as a result.
It's a new year. Will your church make an intentional plan to reach new people for Christ by establishing new small groups?
Diana Davis is author of "Fresh Ideas" and "Deacon Wives" (B&H Publishing) and wife of North American Mission Board vice president for the South Region Steve Davis. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).