If you are a Bible study group leader, you’ve got a lot on your plate already. You have multiple things that clamor for your attention, and here’s another important thing to have on your leadership radar: numbers.
Adult groups have numerous things that impact their ability to grow and assimilate new people. Here are several numbers you must know and respond to if you want to give your group the best possible environment in which it can grow.
The average ongoing Bible study group tends to calcify after the members have been together for 24 months or longer. Although the relationships formed among group members tend to be strong, they can also be barriers when guests try to join the group and make new friends. Groups and group leaders would do themselves (and prospective members) a favor by encouraging the formation of a new group out of the existing group so that newer people can connect relationally.
Adults need space, and 15 square feet per person is the recommended amount of space per adult so that things don’t begin to feel claustrophobic. Take my group, for example. I lead a group of 15 adults weekly, and if I do the math, I should have a minimum of 225 square feet in the place we meet. As it turns out, I have just slightly more than the recommended 225 square feet, but not much more! So while I do have room for the group members to meet, the chances of me growing the group significantly beyond our current attendance is slim to none. I could move to a larger meeting place, or I could lead my group to start another one, reducing our attendance in half; either strategy would give me the space I need to grow my group.
Every ongoing Bible study group needs prospects. You can keep a list electronically, or do it with some kind of paper and pen method, but you must have prospects. It is recommended that you have one prospect for every member of your group. Back to my example: my group of 15 adults should have a minimum of 15 prospects. If I cared to use my active attendance number, that would be slightly higher – probably in the low 20s. At any rate, I need a pool of prospects because I’m going to “lose” people over time – they will move out of the city, possibly move to a different group within the church, die, etc. Every group as a level of natural attrition. If I don’t have prospects I’m encouraging to be a part of my group, then I will see a decline in attendance over time.
In my next blog post, I’ll share three more numbers that groups and group leaders should pay attention to. Each of these numbers has an impact on your ability to grow the group and reach new people.