In many ways, the pandemic has made it harder for people to get connected. Maybe they have been attending church online; or maybe there just haven’t been a whole lot of events and/or new groups to promote. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that people are craving connections — and being connected into a small group is more important than ever! One of the lessons learned in this past year is to simplify. When it comes to helping people connect, simple means just providing opportunities! Below are three simple connection ideas you can try to help foster connections with those who are new and/or still unconnected (be sure to highlight you are reaching those specific individuals). Whatever you do, the end goal is the same: to get each attendee connected into a small group! With each of these ideas, you can make it what you want by targeting specific age groups, making them gender-specific and/or family-friendly — whatever you feel is needed and would work best for your church.
Couples Night Out Connection Event: Host a simple “night out” where couples (no children) can come out and meet other couples. To keep it simple, ask everyone to “BYO-dessert” to share! Assemble a small team of seasoned small group leaders and small group members to be present to interact with the guests and make them feel welcome. While most of the time will be spent casually interacting with everyone, you can incorporate a simple connection activity, such as “Getting to Know You” M&M game where people have to answer specific questions about themselves. Another great connection activity to try is “Pandemic Pivots” where you call out random things that people did throughout the pandemic (this can be tweaked to anything, such as “Summer Fun” or “Holiday Happenings”). Participants simply raise their hand or stand up if they did the specific item called out, and everyone is able to see what they have in common with each other! To give attendees a little taste of what small groups are like, you could also ask one of your seasoned small group leaders to share a very short devotional, with a few questions for people to respond to. Last, but not least, this is a great time to also have someone to share a brief testimony about the value of being connected into a group.
“Pizza & Picnic”: Sometimes, it can be challenging for people to come out during the weeknights. So why not make it easy to reach even more people, by holding a simple event right after church, when everyone is there! This can be a great way to reach families. If you have outdoor space to use, you can create a “picnic-style” event (this can also be done indoors, but depending on number of participants, can be more challenging). Provide pizza for all attendees, and invite them to BYO-dessert to share. You’ll want to have a team of seasoned leaders and group members on hand to help interact with the guests, and some volunteers to assist with the children, if needed, so that parents can enjoy some adult interaction without distractions. Help foster connections by using easy interactive connection activities, which kids can also participate in, such as 4-corners. If the group is fairly large, you could offer both large and small group activities. You can put together the smaller groups ahead of time based on registration info (such as if they have kids or no kids, where they live, etc….) Seasoned group leaders would help facilitate these small groups. One great activity for the smaller groups is to simply hand each group a pen & paper and ask them to find as many things that they have in common with each other (in 5 minutes or less)!Then, invite each group to share those things with the larger group.
Ice Cream “Meet Up”: Who doesn’t like ice cream??! This is probably one of the easiest things you can do — you’re simply providing an opportunity for people to come out and have some face to face interaction with others. Pick a date, pick a place, promote (you can choose to have a registration – or not!) and just show up! As always, have a small team of seasoned leaders and group members on hand to assist in welcoming everyone, talking with people and making connections. The beauty of doing this at a local public place is also that it can double as an outreach opportunity too! It’s a win-win all around.
Why not give some of these connection ideas a try? You’ll encourage others by helping them meet people and make connections, and most importantly, they’ll want to get connected into a group – especially with those they’ve made connections with. This is a great way to start some NEW groups. Helping others make connections doesn’t need to be complicated — keep it simple, and see what God will do!