Building Community in LIFE Groups: The Importance of a Mid-Week Touch

 by Jay Fennell & Susan Hill

Over the years of leading my own LIFE Group and also leading LIFE Groups ministries in various churches, I’ve noticed that the healthiest and most relationally connected groups communicate with each other through the week. Communication matters. If you’re not communicating with your group members on a weekly basis, apart from your weekly gathering time, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to build community in your LIFE Group.

As LIFE Group Leaders, the primary goal is to lead group members to grow in love for God and each other. Building community is a key component in creating an environment where this happens. However, building community, especially in a new group takes intentionality. In fact, it seldom happens on its own.

One of the most important steps in building LIFE Group community is reaching out with a mid-week touch to your group members. Here are 3 suggestions:

  1. Send out a mid-week email. This might include prayer requests that were shared in your group time. (Be sure to make sure group members agree to share prayer requests via email.) Also, this is a way to communicate dates for social outings, mission projects, and updates from group members. It’s also a great way to introduce the following week’s lesson plan.
  2. Consider Using Social Media. Some groups have their own Facebook page where both the leader and group members can easily post updates, group photos, announcements, and mid-week encouragement.
  3. Calls and Texts. Even though this isn’t something that all group leaders can pull off every week, as your schedule permits, send group members a quick text or call to encourage them or let them know you are praying for them. This is especially important if you have a group member who is going through a difficult season. Also, if you have a group member who has been absent for a while, it’s important to reconnect.

Although we sometimes forget, LIFE Group leaders have an incredible amount of influence in the lives of those we lead. It just takes a few minutes to reach out with a mid-week touch and communicate with group members. This simple gesture has a great impact on building relationships and biblical community. Growth is most likely to happen within the context of relationship. Let’s do all we can to build a strong sense of biblical community in our LIFE Groups.

 

3 Suggestions to Make Sure First-Time Guests Have an Excellent Experience

by Susan Hill

As most of you know, Easter is a busy time for first-time guests in the local church. The hope is that in the coming weeks these guests will return and connect in a LIFE Group. For some people, visiting new groups is difficult.  As leaders, we want to be sure our first-time guests feel welcomed into biblical community. Creating a warm and welcoming environment in our LIFE Groups isn’t difficult, but it does require intentionality.

Here are three suggestions to make sure your first-time guests have an excellent experience in your group:

  1. Greet them as they come in the door.
    This seems like a no-brainer and it really is, but you’d be surprised how easy it is in larger groups for a guest to come in and remain unnoticed. Ideally, your group will have a greeter at the door and he or she will recognize new faces and introduce them to other group members. While most people don’t like to be put on the spot and asked to introduce themselves to the class, all people do long to be acknowledged and spoken to.
  2. Wear nametags.
    Coming into a new group setting and not knowing everyone’s names can be overwhelming. Wearing nametags makes it much easier for newcomers to get to know other group members. It also communicates that your group anticipates first-time guests. If your group doesn’t have nametags, please let the Adult Ministry staff know, and we will be glad to have those made for you.
  3. Follow up.
    After first-time guests attend your LIFE Group, it is ideal to follow up within 48 hours by email, text, or phone call. The goal is just to touch base and let the guests know you are glad they came to your group and invite them back. Following up with guests only takes a couple of minutes and has a significant impact on whether they will return or not.

It’s difficult to overestimate the significance of hospitality in LIFE Groups. There is no doubt that guests visit LIFE Groups with the hope of getting connected to an active community of believers. Extending great hospitality is a crucial part of this process. Let’s do everything we can to make that happen.

7 Ways to Invite People to Easter Sunday

Guest Post by Lauren O’Neill

Let’s face it.
Sometimes, inviting friends or neighbors to church can be uncomfortable. Sadly, this is because many of us don’t do it very often. We are out of practice!

But what’s a better time to change our habits, make a fresh start, and extend the love of Christ to those around us than Easter Sunday—the day of new life, resurrection, and hope?

Relationship always starts with an invitation, from one person to another. Here are some ways you can extend Easter invitations to those around you:

  1.  Pray for them by name, before inviting them.

Ask God to go before you, and create a smooth path of conversation for you. Praying for the person will also ease your nerves and put things in appropriate perspective.

  1. Pair the invitation with food or hospitality.

Invite them to coffee before the service or lunch afterward with you and your family. Tell them the menu! Explain there’s plenty of food, and you’d be honored to have them as your guest.

  1. Pick them up at their house that morning and ride to church together.

Walking into a new church can be intimidating for your friend, as can figuring out your meeting-spot, navigating the unfamiliar parking lot, and making decisions about childcare (if necessary). Take the guesswork out of it for them!

  1. Be specific.

Don’t speak in generalities. It’s easier for people to say “no” to an incomplete invitation with vague details. Don’t just ask them if they’d like to attend Easter service with you. Tell them when it starts, when you’ll be leaving your house, when it will be over, where you plan to go to lunch afterward, etc. Then, see what they say!

  1. Have compassion toward their insecurities about church.

If you know there are reasons they don’t usually attend church, be sensitive. Say, “I’m aware of some of your views about church, but if you’d at all be interested, my church is having a really amazing service on Sunday. I’ll be sitting right there with you, and I’d love for you to feel freedom to come if you are at all curious.”

  1. Use social media.

You’ve already got the followers and the platform. Why overcomplicate things? Utilize your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to invite people. Ask your followers to direct message you or text you if they want specific details. Visit brentwoodeaster.com for pre-made graphics you can share via social media.

  1. If all else fails…just ask!

Don’t overthink it. When you’re at the store, out for a walk, working out at the gym, attending classes, or in the break room at work—just take a deep breath, smile, and ask!