My previous two blog posts were Revolutionary Sunday School is Missional, Part 1 and Revolutionary Sunday School is Missional, Part 2. Sunday School and small groups can and should be missional. In fact, it is essential that they take a significant role in helping the church to carry out the Great Commission of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). In the process of being missional, small groups are able to accomplish things a bit differently than Sunday School classes.
I read a recent article by David Williamson who is an area leader for Saddleback’s couples’ small groups. In his role, he recruits, trains, and shepherds other leaders. His article is entitled Eight Ways We Reach out to the Community Through Small Groups. In the article, Williamson identifies “a few things your small groups can do to reach out to their neighbors.” I want to share each of his eight ways to reach out in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- PLAN SOCIAL EVENTS. In You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less, Josh Hunt encourages groups to “invite every member and every prospect to every fellowship every month.” Invite guests. Invite the unchurched. Invite friends, relatives, neighbors, and associates. Laugh, have fun, and eat together. Use that fun tool of party to love people into the community of the group and to Jesus.
- USE THE RIGHT SMALL GROUP STUDIES. If you want your class to touch the lives of people not already in the group, then you should examine whether your studies will attract potential guests. I like Williamson’s statement, “Let’s face it, a study on fasting or judgment might not appeal to those who haven’t any faith, but a study on a particular topic such as the purpose of life might be enough to catch a neighbor’s interest.” It is essential that you address group needs and balanced what is studied, but it is possible to “choose a study that will help both old and new members stay healthy and balanced as they grow spiritually.”
- OFFER DIFFERENT AFFINITY GROUPS. People today like, and even expect, variety. Why not allow there to be variety in your small groups? Vary them by age, by geographic community, by language group, by interests, etc. The more affinities you address, the more diversity you will attract with your groups. For instance, when someone develops a passion for married adults no kids (MANK), release that passion into a group.
- SET UP A SMALL GROUP INFORMATION TABLE AT CHURCH. This can help three ways. First, some may be curious about groups that are available and will seek out that information. Second, that table can be featured from the pulpit when new groups are launched enabling potential group members to meet leaders and receive needed information about new groups. Third, it can also help members and guests receive a visual reminder of the importance of groups in your church. This table can be a healthy part of your intentional strategy to reach out the many groups in your community.
In Part 2, we will look at the final four of Williamson’s eight ways to turn small groups into missional communities: offer a small group hotline, create a small group website, host various events or classes on campus, and leverage campaigns. In the meantime, look through the list above. What step could you take this week to help your small group(s) to be more missional? Add life and purpose to your group as you lead them to reach out and love people to Jesus. Be revolutionary!