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3 Tips to Grow Your Small Group Ministry

  1. Create More and Better Weekend Alignment

The number one event in any local church in America is the weekend service, and it requires most of the staff's best efforts- all the more reason to leverage that experience far beyond the weekend. What if there were more and better ways to leverage the impact of the weekend sermons? What if we turned one weekend into more of a "catalyst" to next steps vs. merely a weekend event?The question is, "What next step do I recommend and how do I make it happen?" We are saying why not take the inspiration of the weekend service to greater application through conversation all throughout the week? This strategy honors the time-tested insight that people forget 80% of what they hear but what they discuss they integrate better into their lives. So how do I get them to talk about a sermon instead of just listen on Sunday?

Many growing churches are using curriculum that contains sermon-based discussion questions for their small groups. This serves as a good next step for taking the sermon and putting it into context in a living room.

Lifetogether gives you all the resources you need to align a small group curriculum with your Sunday Sermon.

Resource CDs are available with all of the Lifetogether Curriculum and includes Session Outlines (also known as Sermon Starters) to help pastors and group leaders review the talking points of each session and their Biblical references. To receive a free session outline with your next purchase add the session outlines to your shopping card and use coupon code: FreeSS77 at checkout. Click Here to see all of the Lifetogether Video Bible Studies.

  1. Shift From Recruiting Leaders To Growing Disciples

For decades, we focused on recruiting small group leaders in order to launch new groups in a church. Then we introduced the Host Strategy at Saddleback Church that got us 75% of the congregation connected in groups in a matter of months by simply asking people to host a group using the video curriculum that aligned with the weekend service. 

This worked like nothing we had ever seen before. Today we are targeting people to not "host" a group but empowering Christ followers / disciples who simply want to "grow" spiritually. Every pastor wants his people to grow and people attending church on a regular basis by definition want to grow in their walk with God or they wouldn't be there. If the "next step" spiritually is to not just be a disciple but make a disciple, why don't we call it out of them? 

We've discovered that using a video curriculum that aligns with a weekend sermon series, it provides the perfect tool to make that happen in any congregation of any size, anywhere in the country. When the pastor uses his influence to say we want you to "GROW" spiritually and your "next step" is to GRAB the curriculum outside (or online), GATHER a few friends and start "GROWING," we see a huge response!

With 95% or more of any church service filled with Christians who have already become a disciple of Christ, this is your chance to redefine that spiritual growth is not defined by simply attending church but gathering with a friend to grow together. Trust me, this is a killer strategy to get not just 5%, 10% or even 15% of your congregation to step up and functionally lead a group - 20% - 25% of your congregation will gather a friend almost overnight. The beauty of this model is that with a video-driven curriculum and companion print study guide, you are able to then catalyze a few friends to grow into a circle of friends or an active small group community. 

Every Lifetogether Resource CD includes a small group leader training packet that will help you develop disciples to lead your small groups.

  1. Know the Secret of Sustaining More Groups

Over the last 25 years we have cracked a new code on how to start more groups but the constant struggle is how to sustain those groups, and we are learning a ton in this area as we work with the bleeding-edge congregations.

The first thing we are doing is a new philosophy of small group ministry which is more "the parable of the sower" versus "Jesus and the 12 disciples." The focus is more on planting, sowing and watering but recognizing it's God who causes the growth. At the same time, aligning with the weekend services and providing a 10-15 minute version of the weekend sermon is vital in this process. The more you are aligned in message and mission from weekend to mid-week, the greater success you will have in sustaining as well as starting new groups.

Brett Eastman served as the Small Group Champion at Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church for over a decade. Brett has produced and either authored or co-authored over 200 small group curriculum series including the bestselling Purpose Driven Small Group curriculum, Doing Lifetogether published by Zondervan, which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. He also was the primary designer behind the 40 Days of Purpose Campaigns that fueled over 25,000 churches around the world. He also wrote and produced the first Purpose Driven small group series for Rick Warren that influenced the development of over 50 small group series to date.

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