You Have To Budget For Small Groups

When it comes down to budgeting for small groups, a lot of churches follow the example of Pharaoh in Exodus:

That same day the king gave a command to the slave masters and foremen. He said, “Don’t give the people straw to make bricks as you used to do. Let them gather their own straw. But they must still make the same number of bricks as they did before. Do not accept fewer.” (Exodus 5:6–8)

We are asking our point people for groups to build a successful system without the necessary straw but still expecting big results. As much as we want to believe community happens organically, it still takes resources for them to be strategic and effective. Here are a few things to think about as you plan out a budget for groups:

  • Put money in for staff and coaches to take leaders out for lunch or coffee. Meetings can happen anywhere, but there is something about sitting down for coffee that engenders honest conversation. Do not limit this to staff. Make sure your coaches have the means to meet with their leaders.
  • Do not skimp on the database or website.Everything around us is moving online and going mobile, so that is where people will expect to look for groups. There is great software available that will tie your church database to your website. If your congregation cannot find information about a group from their phone, it may as well not exist.
  • Budget for at least one nice evening every year to appreciate your group leaders. Your leaders spend a lot of time and effort throughout the year cleaning and opening their homes as meeting places every week. Take one night to show them how much you appreciate it. Make sure to serve them really good food.
  • Put enough money aside to make first-class signs and printed materials. If you are planning to host any kind of small groups fair/connection event, you will need some collateral to support it. Make it look the best you can. Brand it all in the same way. Please do not use handwritten material. People will know immediately how much you value your groups by the quality of your materials.
  • Even if you cannot currently pay someone to be a full-time staff member over groups, start putting it on the wish list for your budget. Your groups will grow exponentially if there is someone on the organizational chart who thinks about them every day.

*This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us, releasing September 29.

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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.

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