My wife and I began a new small group at our church just 5 months ago. This coming Sunday, I’ll do something I’ve never done before: lead my small group through an Easter lesson (every church we’ve been a part of has called off small groups in order to have multiple worship services). My current church is continuing with our normal schedule. I know that I have guests coming to the group this weekend, so here are 7 ways that I (and you) can put a good foot forward and help guests consider giving our small groups a second try the week after Easter:
1. Wear name tags. I can’t tell you how important it is for people in groups to wear simple peel-and-stick nametags! Nametags help people get to know each other and they help guests feel relaxed because they can talk with people and call them by name. This is my normal practice in my Bible study group, and many guests have said “thank you” after the group session is over because the nametags helped them engage people in conversation.
2. Have copies of Bibles. You won’t need many, but one or two copies of the Bible should always be handy in case a guest arrives without one. This happened in my group just last week! I’m thankful that we had a copy to place in a man’s hands who came without one.
3. Do a get-to-know-you activity. Rather than jumping into the Bible study this week, consider starting your group time with an activity that builds community. Have people talk about their favorite Easter memory from childhood, the most memorable activity they’ve done as a family on Easter, where their favorite Easter meal took place (and what they ate), or a family Easter tradition that has been meaningful to them over the years. Get the group members talking and sharing, and you’ll help your guests relax and become part of the conversation quickly.
4. Follow up that afternoon. Set aside 30-60 minutes on Easter Sunday afternoon to send a follow-up e-mail to each guest that came to your Bible study. If you have their phone numbers and have time, make a few calls and visit with the person, and ask if they have questions about you, the group, your church, or something else. Research has shown that the faster we follow up with our guests, the higher the percentage return the very next week!
5. Have extra copies of the curriculum you use. If your group is using a particular Bible study, have extra copies. When my wife and I were visiting churches prior to joining our current one, several small groups we tried did not provide us with a copy of the material they were studying, so we felt like fish out of water.
6. Provide a snack. Something simple (donuts, the old stand-by) or a breakfast quiche and some coffee or juice can provide a way for people to stand around and fellowship while they eat, and it may also be an unexpected treat if you’re not used to doing this.
7. Introduce guests to members of the group. I make it my practice to quickly meet any guest who comes to my Bible study, then introduce them to another person or couple in the group. I want to help them start making connections with others, so I quickly hand them off to people with whom I know they’ll have something in common.