How to Recruit to Your Small Group
Getting a group up and running is a hard thing to do. In this article, I am going to give you three cautions and three suggestions for getting people to attend your small group. I hope you find these helpful. First, here are three cautions when recruiting people into a group.
- Be realistic. People are busy and aren’t always able to commit to a regular meeting time. This is simply the world we now live in. Between work commitments, home life, kid routines, sports, personal hobbies, and more, it can be hard to dedicate time to another regular church meeting. Also, with a very high rate of group involvement at our church, the pool of people who remain unconnected and are interested in joining a group is very limited. We need to learn to be realistic.
- Sign-Ups Have Limited Effectiveness. Missiologist and church planter Ed Stetzer once said, “The loneliest person in a church is the one standing in the back with a clipboard.” Trying to get people to sign up is hard. Simply asking doesn’t usually get it done. Even churches that do creative sign-up campaigns with elaborate marketing efforts, don’t always see a big response. Don’t expect the signup to magically fill your group.
- The Pastor can Only Do So Much. When everyone asks me to recruit people to their group, I often feel like the king of Israel saying with exasperation, “Am I in the place of God?!” (2 Kings 5:7) …I am happy to cast vision for the value of groups, draw people’s attention to the available and open groups, and try to connect the dots. However, please recognize that my ability to influence, as significant as it may be as the pastor, is still limited. I try to cash in my leadership capital on the items that are church-wide and most influential for the overall health of the church. I am reluctant, then, to promote everything with the same level of intensity. Again, I can only do so much.
On the positive side, here are three things that you can do to try to recruit to your group:
- Personally invite people. There is no more effective tool than a personal invite. Use all the relational equity that you have to make people aware of your group. It will take work. But it is worth it. Your willingness to embrace a “boots on the ground” strategy will be a large factor in the effective launch of your group.
- Think like a church planter. I like to compare the launch of a group to the launch of a micro-church. To launch a church, you will need a launch team. Who are the people of influence that you need to recruit first? Does your team have the skill set to facilitate a compelling meeting regularly? Make sure you have people with gifts of hospitality and administration (these gifts are essential). To launch effectively, you’ll also need a vision. Why should people sacrifice their time and energy to attend your group? If the vision isn’t compelling, people simply aren’t going to show up. Finally, you’ll need to prayerfully identify who God is calling you to reach. Groups (like churches) aren’t for our own sake. They aren’t just platforms for our gifts to be displayed. God uses groups (and churches) as instruments of blessing for the sake of others. So, start thinking like a church-planter and see if God gives you a compelling vision for a healthy group.
- When possible, leverage the systems of the church. Maybe you want an ongoing group but you’re a few steps back from that. Could you facilitate an onsite group to build out a relational network? If you facilitate Alpha one semester and then Rooted the next, you will have a large group of people from which you can eventually draw into an ongoing small group. You can take advantage of the church-wide promotion and recruitment from the stage and get a healthy boost right away. Tying into point two above, not everyone is called to launch a new work (not everyone is a church planter!). Sometimes, our giftedness is better suited for an established work. Consider letting the church do a lot of heavy lifting for you so that your group can be successful.
As you can see, recruiting participants to a group is a difficult task worthy of our efforts, intentionality, and coordination. I hope this brief article helps you think through how to recruit people to your group. Keep up the good work. I am cheering for you.