Category Archives: small groups

A strategy for growing small groups


Today ( Sunday 20th July) is Small Groups Day at St Pauls.

Why is that?

Two years ago at St Paul’s, we decided to re-engineer our Small Groups year. Instead of running on the default calendar year (Jan – Dec), we moved to the financial year model (July – June). We did this for a number of reasons:

1. We found that trying to get groups up and running during January – February was very difficult. Everybody is trying to settle into the rhythm of a new year with all of its commitments.

2. We found that there was lots of competition for ‘air time’ during the beginning of the year to give small groups any profile at all. There are youth camps and the start of all the programmes, let alone the big push in our first term preaching programme. There was no space.

3. We found that asking people to think about intentionally dividing their groups to create new groups at the end of the year got lost in all of the busyness around end of school year and Christmas and summer holidays.

So, we changed the calendar.

Our Small Groups Year now begins at the start of Term 3, which is mid July. This gives us several advantages:

1. We have a clear space to have a dedicated recruitment drive into Small Groups in our church, that will happen every year.

2. We can ask people to join Small Groups at a time of year when the rest of life is fairly stable. This means people know when they have time to come out to a group. It also means our groups are stable over the upheaval that is Christmas and summer holidays.

3. We have a fixed point in the calendar (a ‘rock in the road’) that forces every small group to evaluate where they are up to, and be intentional in continuing or rebirthing or ending. This means there is a focus point for the training and sending out of co leaders who can start more groups.

4. We have 6 months lead up at the front end of the year where we can train new leaders to be ready for those we recruit at Small Groups Day.

To mark the beginning of the Small Groups year, we have Small Groups Day. We commission leaders for the year, we pray for those who are in groups, and we invite those who are not yet in groups to join.

Of course, people can (and do) join Small Groups at any point of the year. We have other processes for this. But Small Groups Day means that once a year, we have focused attention and profile on Small Groups, and an intentional recruitment drive for all those not yet in a group.

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thoughts on church as community

Some thought provoking comments from a book I’ve just got hold of called ‘Total Church’:

“The church, then, is not something additional or optional. It is at the very heart of God’s purposes. Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under his rule. It would be a glorious outpost of the kingdom of God: an embassy of heaven. This is where the world can see what it means to be truly human.

Our identity as human beings is found in community, Our identity as Christians is found in Christ’s new community. And our mission takes place through communities of light. Christianity is ‘total church’.

If you warm to this vision of Christian community then start where you are. Sell the vision by modelling the vision. Don’t become a pain to your exisiting congregation, telling them everything they are doing is wrong. Become a blessing by offering hosptitality, shopwing practical care, dropping in on people. Create around you a group of Christians who will share their lives and encourage one another in the faith.

You might start with your home group. Often home groups are little more than a meeting. Make yours a community by acting like a community. You don’t have to mount a campaign for change – just get on with it and make community infectious. Create asomething that other people want to be a part of. And think about whether you could establish a context in which people in your church can hang out together and invite unbeleiving friends: something like a regular cafe night, an open home or football practice.”

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church: A radical reshaping around gospel and community (Nottingham: IVP, 2007), 48.

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