When is the best time to start new Bible study groups?

Your Bible study ministry won’t grow unless you start new groups – that’s a fact. New groups, on calendaraverage, raise your groups ministry attendance an average of 10 people. But how do you know when it’s the right time to start a new group? In my experience, there are three big occasions when that should occur. I served two churches that had successful Bible study ministries. I’ll call them “Church A” and “Church B.” Here is what I learned:

  1. Start groups when your church naturally grows – Every church has its own unique characteristics. Attendance patterns tend to be very stable and somewhat predictable over time. Simply gather attendance data for a few years (your church will have records of attendance) and plot the average attendance by month. I served two large churches as the Minister of Education (today that role is often called Discipleship Pastor, Growth Pastor, Groups Pastor), and it didn’t take long to see clear attendance patterns. Church A’s highest attendance took place in August-September, February, and April. Church B’s highest attendance took place in October-November and February-March. I tried my best to launch new groups during those high-growth months when we had the most people on campus.
  2. Start groups when you identify gaps in your groups ministry – If you notice an underserved group in your church or community, it’s time to begin a group to reach them. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you seem to be attracting a lot of single moms, but you don’t have a Bible study group just for them – then it’s time to start a new group! As you look to your community, you may see people there who would not have a group if they came to your church’s Bible teaching ministry – then it’s time to start a new group!
  3. Start groups when you have a leader and a team of helpers ready to go – One of the most successful groups I ever launched began in June – one of the lowest-attended months at Church B. I had serious reservations about it succeeding because we launched it when the summer slump began. However, a committed group leader and his team of helpers reached young married couples, and today that group has started two new groups – it’s now a “grandmother” group to two other groups. It may be counter-intuitive to launch a group at a low point, but because God is in control, He can bless your efforts to reach new people, even when it doesn’t make sense. I’d hate to discourage an enthusiastic new group leader and a team of helpers by telling them they’ll have to wait a few months until the next growth spurt takes place again. Launch that group at an “off” time – just know it may take a little longer to get it off the ground and it may require extra attention on your part.

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One comment

  1. Have a teachers in training (TNT) program in place each year so you will have a pool of leaders ready to start your new groups. Otherwise you will be scrambling for leaders. I believe you taught me that. Good post Ken.

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