As we have developed the ReConnect Sunday School strategy, one of the primary connection points has been for the church’s small groups to connect guests or new members into a group. This connection is a primary emphasis in an ongoing small group strategy in the local church.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the weakest connections in most small groups. In fact, many churches are letting potential new church members slip through their fingers because the small groups have no plan to follow up on guests who have either visited a worship service, or even visited one of the church’s small groups. This lack of follow-through stymies church growth. More importantly, it is also hurting thousands of people across our state who are trying to reconnect with God and the church, but are unable to because of the lack of care being extended by the group itself.
Recently, I have been deluged with unbelievable horror stories from church guests who have received zero contact from a local church after they have completed and returned a guest registration card. Some of these stories are truly heart-breaking. I am one of those people who truly wants to be as uplifting and positive as possible, but this issue is so widespread in our churches that I feel the need to apply some much-needed spiritual chastisement to this issue.
Now, before you tune me out because you think that this issue does not apply to your group, let me ask a couple of simple questions:
1) Can you identify the person or persons in your small group or Sunday School class who has the specific responsibility of contacting guests who are either assigned to your group by the church or guests who should be in your group? If no one has the responsibility to follow-up on guests, I can assure you that follow-up is not getting done.
2) Does your group have a “No Return” issue? Do people who are not part of your group make one or two visits and never return again? If so, it is very likely that they were not contacted by the group and chose not to return.
Fortunately, this issue is fairly easy to resolve. Here are some thoughts and ideas to help your group reach its potential of being the spiritual and personal care center of your church.
1) On the upside, for the vast majority of small groups in our state, most classes have one or two guests a month to follow up on. This issue is easily fixable.
2) Someone in the group must take on the responsibility to follow up on every guest. Typically, this person has been called the outreach leader, but put whatever tag you want on them, someone must be responsible.
3) For many guests, a phone call the week after their visit is the most effective first step. Guests want to know if this small group will care for them, and the first week reveals the caring ability of the group.
4) Assign someone to sit with a guest who visits the group. Accompany them to worship. Ideally this person should be the outreach leader who will call them later in the week.
Oklahoma Baptists are a caring people. Make sure that your group has someone responsible to follow up on your guests.