So about two years ago we launched a small group program for our students. It didn’t fail, but it didn’t do what we needed it to do. I would say we got no more than 30% of our students in a group. Compared with having 0% in groups two years ago, it was a win. But we could do better and I think it was what we where offering and when.
So Our team hit the streets and talked to students and parents about why they were not in groups.
Now more than ever students are so busy. It’s an epidemic. At least in my area, they are involved in everything. They CHOOSE to go to summer school to get ahead in classes! In high school, you couldn’t pay me enough to make that happen. It’s crazy. We noticed we were asking for students to be involved in our church on Sundays, go to our student ministry on Wednesdays and then go to a small group another night of the week.
That is a lot of nights.
We called an audible. We got together as a team, prayed a lot, talked a lot, and did some research. Because we really do think real life change happens in groups, we wanted to maximize this knowing what we do about our students and Southern California culture.
We are going to make Wednesdays a one stop shop. We are adding small groups to our Wednesday night program… BEFORE our normal Wednesday night program.
In order to get more students involved in groups, we are making it all available in one place, one night. We didn’t want to do after service because we have a great invite culture and I didn’t want students to have to leave their friends they brought to go to a group. We also didn’t want groups to be a requirement to come because I feel it’s not welcoming. So choosing to be in a group (using sign ups) and before service will allow those who want to be involved to be involved and they can still bring their friends to service after.
So our nights will look like this for the most part:
- 5:45 – Leaders get there
- 6-7pm Groups will meet on our church campus
- 7-7:30pm Patio/hang time for all students
- 7:30-8:45pm Student Service
Luckily there are a few churches who do this who we have chatted with and learned a bit from (Eastside Christian Church here in CA and Eaglebrook Church in MN).
Our goal is 50% of students in groups before service on campus on Wednesday nights. This is new. This is bold for our ministry. We believe God is in it and lives will be changed because of it. We are excited.
Just a couple of thoughts as we process and begin sign ups tonight:
- You can’t be stuck to one way of doing things. If you are unwilling to adjust when needed, you are sanctioning the death of growth in your ministry.
- You can NEVER pray too much about a God-given direction.
- You need to have the skills of a college football recruiter to get the amount of leaders you need to run things efficiently. Geez.
- Start casting the vision of a new direction early and repeat it often. We have known about this change for a while but we need to remember for a lot of people, this is brand new info.
- Do not just give info on groups. Give stories. Stories of life change help compel and move people towards WHY they need to join a group.
Be praying for us as we enter in to this new.