Connecting people to groups

Mountain Lake Church does an amazing job of moving people from the big weekend worship experience to a smaller midweek group experience.

Most churches struggle with this because they try to get people to make the move straight from a crowd on the weekend to a group in the week.

Here’s the problem… most people in the crowd don’t know each other, and if they do it’s typically on a superficial level. That presents a lot of problems.

Story coming up…

Suppose I were to show up to your church on Sunday and hear you say, “Everybody should be in a small group.” For some insane reason I say, “OK, I agree with that”, and then go sign up to be in a group.

Later that week I find out where “my group” is meeting and I show up. But somebody forgot to tell me that my family of six was going to be meeting in an older couple’s home with all kinds of precious knick-knacks scattered throughout the house!

Now I’m tasked with trying to watch my kids, make the host confident that they won’t break anything, and on top of all that… act like I’m enjoying the group.

I promise… I won’t come back.

The problem is that a lot of churches do small groups just like this and then wonder why they aren’t working!

They aren’t working because people aren’t ready to move into the unfamiliar! They’ve got enough of that already!

Mountain Lake has figured out how to fix that problem – Connection Groups.

Connection groups are the bridge from the large, familiar, weekend experience to the small, unfamiliar group, experience.

Here’s how it works…

For anyone interested in joining a small group, MLC (Mountain Lake Church) invites them to a two week trial experience on the campus of MLC! They call this a “Connection Group.”

They meet in groups that have been put together by the church staff based on life position (age, children, geographical location, etc.).

When people arrive at the church (typically on a Wednesday night) they receive a name tag and directions to their group. The groups, consisting of 8-12 people each, are circled up in the main auditorium which holds approximately 15-20 groups.

After finding their seat, they grab a snack; it’s a pitch-in so the church’s overhead is minimal.

With snack and coffee they go to their group and begin to meet one another (often for the first time).

After about 30 minutes of chat, Louie Lovoy, the Connections Pastor, gets up and with lots of humor, explains what the Connection Groups are all about, lays out expectations, and then turns it over to the leader of each group.

The leaders are pre-recruited from existing small groups, and have been through a group leader training class.

Once the group leader takes over he/she leads the group in an icebreaker, get-to-know-you kind of time.

This happens for two weeks, during which a few expectations are set out:

  • We hope you will gel and keep this group going… in one of your homes.
  • Every person in the group has a role to play (e.g. host home, snack coordinator, child-care coordinator, etc.)
  • If you don’t like your group you can let us know and we’ll put you in another one.

After the two weeks are up the groups (with VERY rare exceptions) all move out into the community!

The beauty of Connection groups is that they:

  • provide a safe place to meet new people
  • are low commitment – only two weeks
  • provide easy points of entrance and exit (if I like you I’ll keep coming and if I don’t like you I can ask for another group without embarrassing you or putting myself in an awkward situation)

MLC has done a great job of figuring out how to move people from the weekend to the week! Way to go guys!

Bonus Alert:

Louie Lovoy, the Connections Pastor at MLC, has a blog which he uses to communicate with his group leaders. Because Louie is a flippin genius you may want to check it out HERE!

2 thoughts on “Connecting people to groups

  1. I can tell you that the small group experience here at MLC have been life changing for me personally. I went from being drug to a connection group by my wife, to actually enjoying it and “connecting” with some people I didn’t know before. I was one who always hid behind the “I’ve got enough friends, I don’t need anymore” line. Then I went from connecting to experiencing true community with these people, developing some great friendships. My group has been there for me and my family through many trying times (surgery, my moms heart attack, etc.). They have also been there during the great times (birth of our second daughter Hailey). Seeing my group in action during these times was amazing. Bringing meals, providing childcare, prayer, and genuinely caring for me and my family.

    I then went from being a member of a group to leading one. That is WAY out of my comfort zone!! One thing I’ve learned since coming to MLC is that God never promised it would be easy to follow Him. You may be asked to do something you would rather not do if it was up to you. The thing is, when you do, you will often be rewarded for taking the risk. I honestly think I get more from leading my group, than my “groupies” do.

    Sorry for such a long comment. Growth Groups are something I’m passionate about.

    Great Post!

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