And while the survey revealed much to be celebrated, it also highlighted one area of significant concern: the gap between worship attendance and participation in LifeGroups. While all churches have some gap in those numbers, our gap is wider than most congregations our size and our style.
Those of us on staff and on the Board have known of the survey results since well before the current series. So even before the sermons began addressing the matter head-on, we instituted a number of subtle yet marked changes.
- Using the welcome time to highlight not only the Connection Card in our program but the “Contact Me About LifeGroups” tab included on it.
- Ensuring that the LifeGroups booth is well staffed and well stocked throughout Sunday morning.
- Turning every event into a step. For example, our MarriedLife Live event in August (a sellout with 54 couples showing up!) was also a step into LifeGroups. That night we recruited for a new Sunday morning LifeGroup focusing on the issues married couples face. The group now has 10-12 couples who gather together for prayer, study, and conversation each Sunday morning.
- Making the membership process itself a step into LifeGroups as the most recent Next Step class has continued meeting, just without me. It has become a Wednesday night LifeGroup.
- Inspired by a preacher of no small skill, I designed and delivered a Sunday “small groups” messaged that had a “problem-solution” format. I’ve never done that with a message on community life before. But it led to the refrain of “Dislocation breeds infancy; Relocation generates growth.”
- Improving the process for our most recent LifeGroup Launch event. Discipleship pastor Chris Thayer imported and adapted several ideas from neighboring congregations into our Sept. 22 launch event and the result was five new LifeGroups started and six existing LifeGroups filled with new members.
The process is not complete and the results are not final.
Yet since we embraced these small changes, we’ve had a 25% increase in the number of Good Shepherd LifeGroups just in the last six weeks.
Small changes. Large — life-giving — impact.