In the book Great Expectations by David Francis, Director of Sunday School for LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the expectations of any Sunday School group is that it start another one. Great groups start new groups. New groups typically grow faster and reach more people for Christ than do older, established ones.
If you were going to start new groups in your church, when would you start them? Here are four optimal times to start new groups:
1. At the beginning of the new year – many people come back to church after the busy Christmas holidays. They are ready to get back into the swing of things. Others are making resolutions as they start the new year, and among those include getting back to weekend worship services and membership in a Bible study group. New groups started at the beginning of the new year can reach people who are trying to reconnect with the church. Superbowl Sunday is a good day to target the introduction of new group options (advertise the new groups in January and build excitement).
2. The Sunday after Easter – That’s this coming Sunday! Just as people come back to the church after the first of the year, countless others come back to the church for Easter services. Promote the new groups several weeks leading up to Easter, and have a list of new groups and a registration form in the Easter worship bulletin. Make it very easy for people to express interest in getting connected to one of your new groups. Simply have guests place the registration forms in the offering plate on Easter Sunday, and give their contact information to a group leader so that follow-up can begin. If you missed this window of opportunity in 2017, mark your 2018 calendar now! Make the Easter season and the return of absentee members plus your Easter weekend guests work for you next year.
3. Back to School – If you missed Easter opportunities to start new groups, your next big chance is in August. No doubt your church experiences the “summer slumps” – members take vacations and July is typically the month with the lowest average attendance. But just wait until August – the people return in large numbers, excited about the start of school, football, and Fall. This is a great time to begin new groups.
4. Any Month when Attendance Spikes – Keep track of your Sunday School attendance over time, and you’ll see attendance patterns develop. You can quickly identify the one or two months of the year when attendance spikes, and that’s the time to start new groups.
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