In Part 1, I mentioned that Virgil Grant recently shared information with me from a book by Rick Howerton entitled Destination: Community–Small Group Ministry Manual. Rick’s book on page 43 has a section 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. Thanks, Virgil, for your suggestion!
In this three-part series, I have shared Rick’s TOP TEN LIST. In Part 1 and Part 2, I shared his first six questions potential members ask about our classes/groups. In Part 3, I will share the final four questions. Rick’s questions are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
- HOW MUCH DO I HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT THE BIBLE? Teachers and group leaders should be sensitive to the biblical knowledge and experience of group members. If there is any doubt, the teacher/group leader should take extra time to explain all terminology and background material. In most cases, there is a tendency to overestimate what group members know or remember. If you think they may know, then go over the material like a review. But it is helpful for potential guests to understand expectations. Be honest. Help the potential group member to understand openness to questions and that every participant is attempting to learn something from each session.
- HOW MANY WEEKS OR MONTHS IS THIS GROUP GOING TO LAST? If the class/group has an end, share it. If group members are asked to sign a covenant committing themselves to be faithful in attendance, share that with the potential member. But also give him/her the right to wait a couple of weeks before making a decision! If the class/group is ongoing, help the potential member understand that fact. This may take some explanation since there are few ongoing optional experiences in life today. Point to the relationships and support that this ongoing relationship and experience provide.
- IF I DON’T LIKE IT, CAN I LEAVE WITHOUT PEOPLE BEING ANGRY WITH ME? Not every group fits every person. Invite people to “test drive” your group–with no obligation. If they drop out, avoid angry or sarcastic comments and trying to cause guilt. Instead, if they drop out in the early weeks, extend the group’s care without pressure. If potential members choose to leave permanently, try to ascertain why they are leaving. Avoid being defensive. Attempt honestly to address any issues that may be helpful in the future.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO BE DOING DURING MEETINGS? Paint a picture of the way the average class/group session looks. How do you begin? What happens in the middle? How do you conclude? When does the group pray? Are there refreshments? How much is the Bible and/or a learner book used? How much is large group and how much is small group? Do you talk about upcoming class plans? If experiences vary depending on the lesson, share that fact–or else potential members may not be prepared. Talk a little more specifically about the current series of topics.
There are many other helpful sections in Rick’s book. For more about the book, check out this blog post Launching a Small Group or a Small Group Ministry. Review Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. How well are you communicating answers to these questions with potential members? Reach out to those who are unconnected. Listen to their questions about Sunday School/small groups. Stay aware. Help your teachers/group leaders lead their groups to understand these concerns. Lead them to care. Be revolutionary!