Six Questions to Ask Before Launching Groups This Fall

The end of summer is just a month away, and that means it’s time to plan for launching new groups for the fall semester. The odds are good that your church will have new people showing up in August who need biblical community. Whether you decide to launch a campaign with all of your groups studying the same content for a few weeks, or just have new groups available for those new people to join, asking the right questions now will help ensure the success of your launch.

Question #1: Do we have enough coaches for the new leaders?

No matter how much training you provide for your new leaders, they will almost always run into issues during group meetings that they need answers for. The best source for providing those answers will be seasoned group leaders who have been there before. Every new leader should be assigned a veteran leader that can be one email or phone call away when questions arise.

Question #2: Are we starting the right number of new groups?

Before you launch your groups, make sure there are enough groups to accommodate the people wanting to join. It’s much easier for new people to stick to a new group than an existing one. Existing groups already have relationships formed and a new person will feel left out, no matter how open the group members are. Use last year’s August/September attendance numbers to help calculate how many new groups and coaches you will need to recruit before your sign-up weeks.

Question #3: Are we planning for multiple weeks of sign-up opportunities?

Most people only attend church one or two Sundays a month. If you only offer sign-ups for small groups on one weekend, you will miss over half of your congregation. Sign-ups should be offered at least two weeks in a row, with opportunities also available on the website for those who still missed it.

Question #4: Is the senior pastor prepared to make the initial ask?

If biblical community is an important piece of discipleship for your church, then the first vision call should come from the senior leader. The congregation will need to hear the “why” behind small groups before they understand the “what.” No one can do that better than the lead vision caster for the church.

Question #5: Are we providing biblically solid, easy-to-use curriculum?

It’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about the details of the launch and little on what the groups will be studying. If groups are going to make disciples, they will need an easy-to-use Bible study to spur the necessary discipleship conversations. Aligning your groups with the Sunday messages is a good direction to start with. SmallGroup.com can help you write solid sermon-based studies without taking too much of your time.

Question #6: Do we have a next step for groups after the launch?

If you want your groups to continue to succeed after the initial launch, you need to think about easy next steps for them. What will they study after the short-term campaign is over? Will they continue with a coach? Will they need to add group members at the next sign-up opportunity? Provide a roadmap for them, and your new groups will last beyond the first semester. A balanced discipleship curriculum roadmap can be found here.

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About the author

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes.