The timing of Easter Sunday this year provides a unique opportunity for small groups. When Easter is later on the calendar, it’s difficult for newly formed groups to get traction before the summer vacations start after Memorial Day. An April 1st Easter Sunday leaves two full months, and that’s plenty of time for a group to begin to build community. Here are four things you can do to capture the Easter momentum and create new groups that will thrive.
1. Recruit new leaders on Palm Sunday.
Make an announcement that you are looking for leaders and hosts to launch new groups the week after Easter for unconnected people coming next Sunday. This call should emphasize the vision of community and discipleship for everyone in your church. Make sure that you have turbo-type training ready for the new leaders.
2. Choose an easy-to-use 6-week study for new groups.
You can choose one from this list, or sign-up for a 30-day preview of smallgroup.com. There are over 3000 studies to choose from on smallgroup.com, and many of them are video-enhanced, 6-week studies. You may also want to build custom sermon-based studies with smallgroup.com to go along with the sermon series. It’s always a good idea to start a new series on Easter to give people a reason to come back the next week.
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. Have a summer plan ready for groups.
You don’t want your new groups to cease to exist when vacations start, so plan to follow up with them the last week of April. 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 missional through the next two months. That will help keep the new community going.
With some quick planning and recruiting, you can launch new small groups that will build on the excitement and momentum of Easter.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 23 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 is also the Small Group Specialist 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 recently released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.