How can you increase show-ups and sign-ups at your small-group connection?
First, choose a familiar place and convenient day and time for unconnected people.
Part of ensuring the best attendance is making it convenient for unconnected people who may be reluctant to venture too far off their beaten path. When is the best day and time for a connection? Right after (or during) a service when people are already there. Do it in an easily accessible room and provide childcare. Train your childcare team to ask, “Are you staying for the connection?” Use good, clear signage.
Second, begin promoting the connection in advance.
Unconnected people are almost always infrequent attendees. If you want to get their attention, you’ll need to promote the event two or three weeks in a row. The best way to promote the connection is to talk from the pulpit about the power of being connected and then refer to the connection event as an action step. It’s great to also give an announcement and feature it on the website and newsletter, but the key to great promotion is to do it in the message. For a supercharged promotion, prepare a video or a live testimony of someone who has been powerfully transformed by being in a small group.
Third, make it convenient to sign-up.
Provide a simple bulletin insert for people to fill in their name, phone number, email and the kind of group they’re looking for (this last one is optional, but allowing them to check interest in couples, singles, men’s or women’s groups gives you a little info that can help you prepare). Unless your church is exceptionally good at giving people the opportunity to sign up during the service through their phones, an old-school sign-up form generates a much better response. And be sure you provide an opportunity for them to complete it and drop it in the offering later in the service. Even if you have to move the offering to a later slot in the service, it will be worth the effort.
Fourth, optimize attendance with these steps:
- Send an initial “thanks for taking this step” email from your senior pastor commending their sign-up as well as providing specifics about the event (day, time, room, childcare instructions, etc.).
- Send a reminder email two or three days before the event.
- Call everyone the day before the connection. The phone call can be a quick 15-second voicemail reminder.
- Making a final announcement on the day of the connection will ensure last-minute attendees (“Whether you’ve signed up for the connection today or not, you are invited!”). Walk-ins make a big difference.
Mark Howell (@MarkCHowell) is the pastor of communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada and the founder of SmallGroupResources.net. This article was originally published on MarkHowellLive.com.