Home > Church, Leadership > 5 Ways to Make Your Church or Small Group Sticky

5 Ways to Make Your Church or Small Group Sticky

At Living Hope Church we have the privilege of seeing a lot of guests come through our Sunday Gatherings on any given week.  This past Sunday we baptized six people who invited their friends and family members to join them in celebrating their new life in Christ. As a result, we had more than 35 guests attend our service.

Our Community Groups, likewise, are notorious for having more non-churchgoing, non-Christians than they do Living Hope members.  By God’s grace, we’ve seen a fair amount of people come to know Jesus through our Sunday meetings and weekly small groups.  Unfortunately, like a lot of churches, we’ve also seen a lot of people stop by for a visit and never come back.

In recent months we’ve become much more intentional in our efforts to help people stick.  We haven’t perfected our process, not everyone in our church is doing this yet and we still don’t have stellar results, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we have seen an increased number of people stick around, get plugged in and progress toward Jesus.  Here are a few of the things we’ve tried.

Get Sticky

sticky 1

Image via spiced2.com

1. Personally invite people to join you for church or small group.  Most people don’t show up at church because they haven’t been invited.  Teach your church or small group members to live differently among their classmates and co-workers, then teach them to answer honestly about what the Lord has done in their life.  

As people take notice of our lives, our response will either increase or decrease their desire to know God.  If we sheepishly give a surface level answer, we’ll get a surface level response.  If we enthusiastically tell them that it’s because of Jesus, we’ll be met with a higher level of interest.  

Similarly, a personal invite is as simple as asking a teammate what they have planned that night or weekend.  When they ask the same question in response, teach your members to tell them about church or small group and to invite them to tag along. This makes the invitation both simple and natural.

2. Maximize your pre and post service opportunities.  In most cases, your church or group has a very small window with which to welcome guests before they start feeling like they don’t belong.  The same is true after the meeting or service.  If people are not engaged in meaningful conversation quickly, they’ll slip out the door and likely never return.

Remedy this by teaching your group members to spend the first five minutes before and after service or group introducing themselves to people they don’t know and introducing newcomers to other members in the group or church.  The more real-life connections a person has the more likely they are to come back again.

3. Follow up promptly.  Teach your members to get people’s names and when appropriate contact information.  Then, encourage your members to follow up with anyone they had a significant connection with (especially if it was someone they personally invited) within 24 hours.  Depending on the strength of the relationship this can be done through Facebook or a phone call and it’s as simple as thanking the person for coming, asking them what they thought and inviting them to join you again in the future.  For us, this has been the single most effective way to help people feel like they belong.  

4. Do life with people outside of formal meetings. Once a person has made two or three returned trips to your group or service, invite them over to hang out or grab lunch with them.  This doesn’t have to be formal or super spiritual, it just needs to be intentional.  Get to know them, listen to their story and ask them what their thoughts are on the things they’ve heard at church or group.  This can turn into some quality discipleship in a hurry.

5. Cast many nets. Christ has called his followers (us) to be “fishers of men,” but you don’t catch all your fish in the same nets.  You wouldn’t catch a shark in a small hand net and you wouldn’t try to catch a minnow in a net fit for a shark.  The same is true for people.  You’re going to catch different people in different ways.

Some people will be caught through the casual net of social interaction and personal invite, while others will be caught through more formal meetings like newcomer’s lunches, communication cards and an informational email from the assimilation team.  If you want to catch a lot of people, you have to cast a lot of nets.

I’m confident that if churches and small groups employed these simple ideas they would see higher retention and make more disciples.  What are some ways that your small group or church helps people get connected? You can leave a comment here.

  1. March 2, 2014 at 5:45 AM

    Very nice blog!! Such an inspiration this Sunday morning before going to church. Thank you!

    • March 3, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      Thanks! It sounds like you read it at just the right time to put it into practice.

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