Closing the Back Door

Published on: September 1, 2014

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Engaging Your Membership Through Small Group Ministry.

“If your church doubled in size tomorrow, could your people still get their needs met in your present care system? Are your small groups a strategic part of your church?”—Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen and Rick Warren

As I talked with ministers recently at the annual Unity People’s Convention, many expressed a need for “closing the back door.”

“We have plenty of newcomers,” I would hear, “but they don’t seem to stick around very long.”

The Sunday message is great. The music team is dynamic. The kids are having fun. So why the revolving door? What is the missing piece?

Engaging Members Through Small Group Ministry

What if the real reason people seek a spiritual community is because they are looking for connection with people who are in a similar place in life, and they need support in applying the principles we teach each Sunday?

What if people need to contribute to each other in order to know their presence makes a difference? If this is true, what is your ministry doing to ensure people have opportunities to gather together in meaningful dialogue and mutual service?

Small group ministry is a strategic approach to building community, increasing participation, and fulfilling your ministry’s mission.

It differs from small group classes because it is less focused on content, and more focused on personal connection and individual support. Each group is structured to provide prayer, encouragement, accountability and deep personal connection with a small number of people within the larger congregation.

A purposeful small group ministry program builds a culture of participation. From the moment newcomers arrive, there is a place for them to get “plugged in,” to meet new people, to contribute to their group and to experience an immediate sense of belonging.

But most of all, small group ministry provides the processes and infrastructure so that every member of your congregation knows that they make a difference. No one falls through the cracks. Everyone has someone looking out for them. No one exits the back door without a phone call from a friend saying, “We missed you last week. Are you ok?”

For many people who enter your doors on Sunday morning, the most important thing we can communicate to them is this: Your presence makes a difference.

How do we accomplish this? We begin by shifting from being a community “with” small groups to becoming a community “of” small groups. With trained group leaders, we can establish a culture of love, support and encouragement at a grassroots level, so every member knows how much they matter.

Mendhi Audlin
Mendhi Audlin provides small group ministry training, engagement strategy programs, and video-based small group curriculum for New Thought communities. For more information about her SpiritGroup program for small group ministry, visit

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