Pray, Invite, Eat, Repeat

How do you grow a small group? I think it comes down to four simple actions: pray, invite, eat, repeat.

One reason why I want to write on this is because growing our own small group this year took persistence in these principles. We started strong with three committed couples. Then three other individuals joined us. But those three didn’t stay past our fall Outflow series and one of the core couples moved to Italy. Someone else joined us and for what seemed like a loooong time we had five people if everyone showed up.

What do you do when you have a great group and you just need more people?

Pray. We kept asking God to send us people.

Invite. This can’t be overemphasized. Everyone needs to be in a vibrant small group. Really. Some of them don’t realize it though! Some do. So you invite lots of people. We and our host invited people at the Vineyard, our friends, and even people in the grocery store. Some people we invited repeatedly. I remember one week when we were having a potluck that Vicki and I figured if everyone came that we invited that week we would have 20 additional people. One came. Eventually, though people started visiting and some of them kept coming back.

Eat. Food is important to small groups for lots of reasons, one is for drawing people. For some reason it’s less threatening and more fun for people to visit when you are having a potluck, cookout or party. So eat often. Last month our group had a potluck. This week we are having a cookout.

Repeat. These principles work but they sometimes take time. Persistence is important. Hang in there!

If you want your small group to grow—and you do, right?—I recommend that you pray, invite, eat, and repeat.

What advice do you have for others on growing a small group?

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Posted on May 28, 2008, in Eating Together, Outreach, Pray and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great advice Jim!  Some things I might add…  It helps to invite people who are great at praying.It helps to invite people who are inviters themselves.  AndIt helps to invite people who can cook/bake really well!

  2. Stephanie Davenport

    It does help to have good food. However, I have to share a funny story from our group. I was going through a lot of trouble as the leader to make fancy desserts and special dips, etc each week because we were a new group and we meet at a host site instead of a host home. I had been trying really hard to hand off the snacks, with no response. One of the leaders in my group came to me one day and said she’d bring the snacks the next week. I was like “yahoo!” Well, the next week I came in and she had brought store bought pretzels and cookies and I was like “oh no!” my small group will die without our great food. Then she informed me that I’d been setting the standard so high that no one wanted to volunteer to bring snacks, so she wanted to show that that it was as easy as picking something up from the store. The next week and every week since nearly everyone from the group has brought some kind of snack to share with the group!  Some are homemade and some are not, but everyone is getting involved now. I’m anxious to see how I can apply her suggestion in other areas of our group.

  3. Becky - Vineyard, DSM

    I love your advice!! 🙂    REPEAT is the biggest key… over and over again.Another tool with inviting, is to change up what you are studying into segments.  For example, a four-week talk about worship, followed by six-weeks on outflow, three-weeks on parenting & on and on.  Then, you can invite friends to come and share with you through a certain study, which has a start & end.  This is most effective with people who are hesitant to “commit” to a life group… but they can commit to a few weeks study.

  4. One of my first small groups decided to have dinner together as part of the small group time. We had a food coordinator who scheduled who was bringing what, and then we’d cook it together at my house. I was surprised at how quickly the group gelled. It was a young adult group with a good portion of recent high school graduates and college students who didn’t have actual meals all that often. The prep time was a great tool for starting conversations and including new people in the group, just by having them come in to the kitchen…and relationships flourished.

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