Part 12: Gathering People and Growing
How do we grow and gather people within our Connect Group? In the New Testament, we see the people gathered around Jesus. They wanted to be with Him and be where he was. Every week, when people arrive, we need to make sure that they feel the love of Jesus. They experience Jesus every week, so they are bound to return because Jesus is there. That’s when crowds gather.
In the New Testament (Mark 2:1 – 11), there is a story about four men who lowered their paralysed friend through the roof to the feet of Jesus. That house was packed because people were there because they wanted to see the miracle of Jesus. And when Jesus deals with the paralysed man, he deals with his physical and spiritual needs. So we must take our cue from Jesus with how we deal with people in our Connect Group.
We also need to remember that every human desires to belong, and what better place to belong than in a Connect Group? People want to know that they are wanted. So as we communicate with people to invite them to Connect Group, we should communicate that we really want them there, that we’re excited to have them in our homes and that it will be such a pleasure to have them in our home.
Many people tend to shy away from Connect Group if they’ve never been to one or maybe they’ve had a bad experience. Make sure that when you are inviting people, communicate what they can expect at the Connect Group. Also, make sure you ask them if they’re happy for you to have their contact details and ask their permission if they are happy for you to invite them to your WhatsApp chat. Before they even step into your lounge, the group has gotten to know them via the chat, making them feel welcome and part of something before they even come to your home from day one.
WhatsApp groups are a fantastic way to get your people to feel connected. They often communicate with each other, send prayer requests, and celebrate each other’s birthdays or anniversaries, making them feel like a part of the group.
If a new Connect group member has contributed during your meeting, acknowledge and encourage them. People love to be acknowledged; they love to know that they’re appreciated. We need to remember that communication is key. People feel connected and acknowledged in so many different ways when you are communicating with them.
When visitors arrive at your Connect group, ensure they are your focus. Ensure that the people in your Connect group know there will be visitors that week and help make them feel welcome and comfortable. It’s also great for people who have been in your Connect group for a while to share their first-time experiences. This all helps people feel welcome and relaxed. If a person has attended your meeting for the first time, call them during the week or send them a message and tell them how great it was to have them and that you enjoyed them being there, and you hope that they felt at home. That communication helps them to know that they were appreciated, that it was great to have them, and that you hope to see them soon.
We should encourage those in our Connect Group to invite others. When they invite people to the Connect Group, they feel like they, too, are helping grow the group. If visitors attend the Visitors Lounge on a Sunday and have signed up for a Connect Group in your area, give them a phone call during the week, invite them to your Connect group, and maybe even have a look at visitors that raised their hands after the Sunday meeting and go and connect with them straight away. You’ve at least had that connection before they enter your lounge.
Another great way is that often, different sites have courses like Alpha or Starting Point. So you can get involved in those courses and meet new people. So they don’t get lost after those courses but rather join a Connect Group.
It’s also essential to include your Connect group in your social life; it’s not just about one meeting a week. Organise events outside of Connect group meetings; have other people in your Connect Group organising social events. It’s usually at these events that people who usually just come on their own bring others to. Eventually, those visitors to the social events begin attending the Connect group themselves. It also allows everyone to become closer as friends within the Connect Group.
If your people feel loved, if they feel cared for, if they feel welcomed. They’re going to want to come back. They’re going to want to invite other people. Make Jesus the centre of those meetings because that’s when people begin to gather and that’s where people grow.