Assimilating people into your Bible study group is one of the most important functions a group has. Dr. Thom Rainer’s research has demonstrated that people who only attend worship have a dropout rate of 83% in five years. However, if they get plugged into a Bible study group, make friends, and use their gifts in ministering to others, the converse is true.
To get us thinking about how to do a better job at assimilating people into our Bible study groups, use the ABC acronym to remember three important tasks:
- Ask – Stop asking people to fill out information cards when they visit your group. Instead, fill out the information for them. Change your ask! Instead of asking the guest to fill out an information card, ask if you can enroll them on your group’s ministry roll. Explain they are not joining the church or committing any other way. Your goal is to get their key information recorded so that ministry to the person(s) can begin.
- Bond – I like to do my own golf club repair. I frequently change out grips, and just last year I added extensions to each club in my bag. I select a bonding agent, attach the extension, and wha-la…when the bonding agent dries the new piece cannot be removed from the club – it’s on tight. Take that illustration and apply it to the guests who attend your Bible study. How can you help them bond to people in your group? Do you have assigned greeters whose job it is to make new people feel welcome? Do they sit with the guest? Do your greeters introduce guests to others in your group? Are your people wearing inexpensive stick-on nametags? All these things strengthen the bonding process.
- Cultivate – This is an agrarian term, and it makes me think of a garden. The soil must be cultivated; the produce must be cultivated. That requires a level of ongoing energy and attention. To fail to cultivate invites disaster. If I fail to cultivate relationships with potential new members of my group, I invite disaster of a different type. The average guest is taking up to 18 months to join a church (that’s according to the book Membership Matters)! That means as a group leader, I must take a long-term approach and be sure to cultivate a relationship with each guest, even when I don’t see them for a while. They may be visiting other churches, and that’s OK. I just need to remind myself and my group members to reach out again and again and cultivate a relationship with the potential group member.
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