This is the fourth of five chapters in a 25 part blog series titled: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy, published over a five week period. Everything I have posted here is the result of my own personal experiences, from serving on church staffs, volunteering as a lay leader, and being brought in as a paid consultant. It is my hope that these posts will help you and your church get better at connecting with guests, not simply to increase your attendance and membership, but ultimately to grow the body of Christ. Implementing a Connections strategy (or “Assimilation” strategy) is a long term process, and one that relies on a culture of continual improvement. This chapter has five entries, which will all be linked below the post as they are published.
4.3 “Starting Point” Groups. Starting Point groups are a great way to introduce new faces to your church, your core values and beliefs, and to Jesus. These are groups that everyone new to your church starts out in. And by “new” I mean for any reason: Never been to church before, haven’t been to a church in a while, new to the area, etc. I believe the concept of these groups started with NorthPoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. Now there are churches all over the country that do this.
OK, So What Are They? These groups have a clear beginning and end; they last for a set number of weeks. They are not an open ended, “ongoing” group but are geared towards introducing people new to church or just not very involved into community, driven by a curriculum that teaches them how to read and apply God’s word, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
What’s So Unique About This? The difference between these “Starting Point” groups and the “Launch” materials discussed in my last post is duration. Starting Point groups are not ongoing groups; they have a beginning and an end. A church that has a “Starting Point” type of groups program is being clear about their NEXT STEPS. Starting Point would be the next step for anyone looking to connect with others and learn about Jesus.
There’s More Than One Way To Do This: Some churches give a “Starting Point” group an option to transition entirely and become a new group. Others simply promote options once the group ends for people to serve or find a new group.
We Don’t Do “Small Groups” We Do Sunday School. If you’re fortunate enough to have meeting space for Sunday Morning programs, congrats. There was a church here in Dallas that ran a group every month for a few weeks that they asked guests to attend. It didn’t matter what order you attended, but they required all four classes as a part of church membership. This is genius. It takes place Sunday morning, so there’s childcare. It is easily accesible
Again, a great example of what these groups are like is at NorthPoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.
NEXT:4.4 Topical Electives
Main Series Page: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy
Element Four: Connecting In Community