I can almost guarantee that your church will have unconnected people in it on Easter Sunday. In fact, most churches will have record attendance on that day, but we rarely plan for how to help those new attenders get plugged into community as soon as possible. If one of your purposes for small groups is to help close the back door, then there is no bigger opportunity than Easter Sunday. Here are four things you can do to help connect those new visitors into groups after Easter.
1. Have a groups connect event the Sunday after Easter.
You will want to give people visiting on Easter Sunday the quickest avenue possible to getting into groups. This connection event can be a full event that leads into a campaign (see next point), or a stripped-down version with just small group leaders available in the lobby. Start promoting it on Palm Sunday to give you two weeks of promotion before the actual event.
2. Plan a post-Easter, four-week small groups campaign.
A full six-week campaign will be difficult at this point, but a four-week series that starts the week after Easter will put the campaign ending before Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer. Anything longer will lose momentum because of the natural rhythms of summer vacation schedules. The first week of the study can kick off with the connection event at the church and then move into off-site locations for the final three weeks.
3. Only announce the next sermon series and small groups on Easter.
With that many people in the room, it’s tempting to announce everything that you do as a church. Resist that temptation and only announce what the next series is and how people can get connected in groups. Truthfully, most people will be thinking about Easter lunch at the end of the service, so they will only have an attention span for one or two announcements. Make those the most important initiatives they need to hear: what they will learn if they come back, and how they can get connected in community.
4. Follow up on new groups for the summer.
You don’t want your new groups to cease to exist when vacations start, so plan to follow up with them the first week of May in order to help them have a plan for staying together through the summer. They don’t have to continue meeting every week, but this is not the time to disband as a group. Give them ideas for doing something fun and something missional throughout the next two months. That will help keep the community going that was just started.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 22 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He also manages SmallGroup.com for LifeWay Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was just released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.