If you want to shrink your group, here are 9 tried-and-true things you can do to run people off. Tired of big groups filled with people who have lots of questions and needs? No problem! Just do some of the following things and you can shrink your group in no time:
#9- Prepare at the last minute – If you wait until the day before your group meets to study and prepare, you’re waiting much too late! Begin preparing your next Bible study the day after you meet together and complete your most recent one. If your group meets weekly (Sunday), starting your prep on Monday gives you almost a full week to read, study, find extra lesson helps, tie the biblical text to current events, and discover an object lesson or two you can use to illustrate a truth (or truths) from the Scripture passage you’re studying.
#8- Don’t be in a rush to follow up with guests – In the not too distant past, my wife and I searched for a new church after a job relocation. Almost no group leaders reached out to us (we visited a half-dozen churches or more). We received no email follow-ups, no notes of encouragement to visit the group again, and almost no “thank you for visiting our group” letters. It made us feel unimportant, unwanted, and not a priority to the groups we visited.
#7 – Ask guests to pray or respond to questions – There’s nothing quite like putting a guest on the spot and calling on them to pray or answer questions. Although you may think you’re doing the guest a favor, don’t. Let them decide when and how much they want to speak up. Thank them for attending your group, but don’t put them on the spot.
#6 – Forget about having a greeter – A group’s greeter can serve as a vital link to a guest. The greeter can initially welcome the guest, collect information, and introduce the guest to group members to help jumpstart the formation of relationships.
#5 – Keep cramming people into your “cozy” meeting place – Adults need about 12-15 square feet of space each. If your meeting place is over 80% full, it’s too full to maintain growth over the long haul. It’s time to move to bigger quarters, or start a new group. If people feel like there’s no room for them, or if they can’t sit where they’d like, chances are they’ll eventually quit coming.
#4 – Do the majority of the speaking – I hate to be the bearer of bad news, so don’t kill the messenger: people don’t love the sound of your voice as much as you think they do! One way to run people off is to do most of the talking – all the time. Christian educators have affirmed that learning takes place more readily when people are engaged in active learning activities and discussion. Try moving beyond a monologue and try using a “groupalogue” on occasion (which occurs when group members talk and share with one another). Dr. Howard Hendricks once said, “Christian education today is entirely too passive.” I tend to agree with him.
#3 – Don’t worry about ministering to people – If you think that your role as group leader revolves around your teaching ministry, think again. Your group needs a shepherd, too, not just a teacher! When you invest your time and energy into the lives of people, you end up making a great investment. When people believe you genuinely care for them, they’ll be more likely to hang in there with you over the long haul. Large group should consider forming Care Groups so that every member and guest are cared for by other members of the group.
#2 – Have sporadic fellowships, or none at all – Group members need time together outside of the normal Bible study time. If you think that your Bible study group should be all about the teaching, you’re half right. Fellowship time outside of the group’s normal meeting helps deepen bonds of friendship, and it gives prospective new group members a chance to try out the group before they commit to join it.
#1 – Fail to give people jobs to do – If people have no real stake in the leadership of the group, it’s easier for them to unplug and leave the group. If, however, they are responsible for things like greeting, fellowships, prayer, and ministry projects, you’ll probably see a higher level of attendance and commitment over time.