You are a nice person, generally respectable with a fairly nice living room and a friendly dog who doesn’t jump up on people when they come to visit. You make a mean guacamole dip and have the biggest LCD screen in the county. Who wants to watch the small group DVD on a tiny screen? So when the small group host campaign happened, you jumped at the chance to do your part. You went to orientation and picked up your DVD and set the date and time for the launch of your brand new small group.
As the time approaches you think, “I wonder if there will be room for everyone; should I borrow a few more chairs?” Finally, the big moment… 7:00pm… you sit with your yet-to-be-famous guacamole dip wilting on the counter. The ice clinks around as it melts in the bowl next to the 2 liter bottles of drinks you bought of flavors you never drink. “Maybe everyone thought I meant 7:30″… you reason to yourself but know the ads all said 7:00. Eventually, maybe 7:45… you come to your self and in an unfeigned voice say aloud… “No one came.”
But why? There are many reasons why people don’t come to small groups. Of course there are the usual reasons of lack of ads, failure to communicate the information properly, failing to entrepreneurially reach out to your target group; all things that can be fixed pretty easily before the next planned meeting time.
Some are self imposed by the attendee such as, 1. I’m too busy. 2. It’s too far away. 3. I don’t know anyone there. 4. I hate crowds. 5. I don’t need any more friends. If you think about these excuses there really isn’t much you can do to alleviate them. It reminds me of the story Jesus told in Luke 14:15-23. In this parable, everybody he had invited to his banquet gave lame reasons for NOT coming. So the man said to his servants, “go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in so that my house will be full.” He immediately changed his attraction model away from inviting the ones he would expect to come. He sent his servants out to those who needed and wanted more than they had and would come with enthusiasm.
Maybe, when we can’t fill our house with the usual “church folks”, we should reach out to a different crowd… maybe to those who aren’t too busy, don’t hate crowds and people, aren’t too far away, and don’t already have too many friends. In His parable, Jesus called them poor, crippled, blind, and lame from the back alleys and streets. They are never too busy to want to be loved.
If you aren’t hitting your target within the church, instead of revamping your marketing strategy, maybe you should just look for a different demographic… those who are in need of a friend… and be a friend.
Take this Leader Poll on your leading a small group experience.