The area of groups that we have probably experimented with the most is the connection process. After trying several different approaches, what we have discovered is – all of the above. There is not a “one size fits all” method to moving people from the crowd to homes. What works perfectly for your typical extrovert, makes your typical introvert (me) run for the safety of their favorite book. To reach different types of people you have to have different types of approaches. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Groups Fair – Honestly, I hate the mental picture of putting our groups on display in a fair (we don’t call it that publicly any more), but it does describe the process. We have a Sunday at the beginning of the semester where we emphasize groups in everything we do. Pete gives a very compelling message on the value of being in community, then following the service, people have the opportunity to go meet group leaders in the lobby and sign up for a group that semester. This process is much easier done at the smaller campuses with less services.
- Connection Card – The week of the Group’s fair, we also stuff the programs with the group’s connection card. This card just asks for their basic contact information and what kind of group they are interested in. We also use the same card to sign people up at the kiosks in the lobby. They can either take the card to the Groups Fair, the kiosk, or simply drop it in the offering. Our groups team then follows up with them that week to help them find the right group. We push the cards for the next 2 weeks to try to catch everyone. Our teams also call every single card that week to let them know that we are working on getting them connected to a group.
- Online – We have all of our open groups listed online. The website is written on our connection cards so they can take the card home with them and make the decision later. This is the only place that we have a public listing of groups anymore. The books were becoming too costly and out of date as soon as we printed them. When someone signs up online, it goes to the Groups Director at that campus and they then pass it along to the leaders. We find that it gets followed up on best that way.
- Connection Event – This is basically speed dating for community groups. It works great especially for our new groups and Host groups. We fill up a room with tables populated with leaders and signs advertising the type of group and location. We then ask people to choose any table they want and spend the next hour and half walking them through a typical group meeting. By the end of the evening, they walk out of the building already knowing the people in their group and having had their first meeting. This help eliminates some of those first meeting fears (strange home, strange people, strange pets…). Works wonderfully with extroverts, not so much with introverts.
- Groups Presence In The Lobby – People can join a group almost every Sunday by simply going to the Groups kiosk in the lobby and filling out a Connection Card. I wrote in part 2 about how we always have open groups for people to join during a semester.
Those are some of our current favorites. I would love to hear about other ways that you have tried to connect people in groups. Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.