In Part 1, I mentioned that a friend, Virgil Grant, recently and came across some information that made him think of me. He was reading a book by Rick Howerton entitled Destination: Community–Small Group Ministry Manual. Virgil came across a section of Rick’s book on page 43 which is entitled “TOP TEN LIST: Ten Questions Potential Small-Group Members Ask.”
Virgil thought of me because he thought the content might make a good conference. And I agreed with him that classes/groups need to think about what they are doing from the perspective of those who are not yet members. Thanks, Virgil, for your suggestion!
In this three-part series, I will share Rick’s TOP TEN LIST. In Part 1, I shared his first three questions. In Part 2, I will share the next three questions and apply them to Sunday School and small group ministry. Rick’s questions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- AM I GOING TO HAVE TO TALK OR CAN I JUST SIT AND LISTEN DURING MEETINGS? Calling on a group member to answer a question can make new people feel like they are being asked to do public speaking–which is the number one fear in America. Reassure potential attenders and guests that they are welcome to make verbal contributions but will not be called on or embarrassed. Coach all group members so they are sensitive here. After the new person has attended a few times, you might ask if it is acceptable to call on them to share what they are thinking. But make sure you remember their answer and use that information appropriately.
- WILL I HAVE TO PRAY OUT LOUD? This question has a couple of issues laden in it. First is the same as the previous question. Praying out loud still can feel like public speaking. Some people will run the other way from these expectations. Again, reassure them that you will be happy to include them in praying when they feel comfortable doing so. And after a few weeks when the new person has built up more trust with the group, you can check to see if his/her disposition toward praying has changed. The second issue is that some unchurched people have not been exposed to prayer enough to understand how to do it. Again, some of this can clear up after a few weeks of hearing other people modeling prayer. When they give permission for you to call on them to pray out loud, then narrow the focus of the prayer for the first opportunity. For instance, at the end of group time, ask him/her to pray that the group will live out the truth this week.
- WHO ELSE IS GOING TO BE IN THE GROUP? Obviously, the ideal scenario would be that we who are inviting these potential attenders are in the group we are inviting them to attend. Then, they have a relationship by sight with us (or more) and we have knowledge of other members of the group. Sometimes, however, we invite people to groups who are not in our age group or would not be in our class or small group. In those classes, it may help to introduce the potential group member to a member of the group. Or tell them the names and as much information about the group and group members as you know. This is where a great group of greeters before Sunday School or before/after worship (for small groups) can help tremendously. Relationships, content, teaching style, and time/location of the group are four critical factors in deciding on a group. Notice which one was first!
There are many helpful sections in Rick’s book like this one. For more about Rick’s book, check out this blog post Launching a Small Group or a Small Group Ministry. Review Part 1. How are you doing at communicating answers to these questions? Reach out to those who are unconnected to your groups. Are you listening to the questions people are asking about Sunday School/small groups? Stay aware. Help your teachers/group leaders to lead your groups to understand these concerns. Lead them to care. Work to avoid involving new attenders, but don’t embarrass. Be revolutionary!