The primary way we connect people into Community Groups is through GroupLink, which is an event we have twice a year. We also connect people into Community Groups and Access Groups through our online connection tool.
We use our online connection tool to fill Community Groups after GroupLink, as well as for our Access Group registration process.
It is custom software that has not been made for sale. However, other software vendors provide similar tools.
We typically connect married groups by stage of life: just married (two years or less), married without children, married with children, and empty nesters. Men’s and women’s groups can be singles of the same gender or individuals of the same gender in various stages of life: married, single, divorced, or widowed.
Here are a few bullets that describe the flow of the event:
- People can preregister to attend the event or just show up.
- When guests arrive, they sign in according to their area of town and/or stage of life.
- The room is set up “café style.” Living room furniture and café tables are used.
- Once the doors are open, guests are prompted by our volunteers to look for the signs with their area of town and then to mingle with other group seekers in that area to identify those they might want to be with in a Community Group (30 minutes).
- During the next 30 minutes, groups are formed.
- After groups are formed, we show a short video and then the host speaks.
- The final 30 minutes consist of a “mini” group meeting where members of newly formed groups get to know each other.
But the best way to learn how GroupLink works is to watch this video:
Each church has the appropriate volunteers for their needs, but here is an example of our volunteer teams and their responsibilities:
- “Host Team” members greet and register our guests.
- “Connectors” help guests connect with one another and with leaders during the event.
- “Facilitators” assist groups that form without leaders.
- “Event Team” members help with set-up and teardown.
GroupLink is held in January and August.
All events are run the same, but happen at different times during the week/weekend. Since our churches vary in size, each one customizes GroupLink for their specific needs. An example of the customization is the use of volunteer teams, the length of the event, and the organization of the event room.
The groups typically decide the time and location for their first meetings. Group leaders leave that night with contact information for everyone in their starter groups. The group then meets for eight weeks after which they decide if they want to continue as a group. We give each leader and each new group member a card that challenges them to “Show Up, Join In, and Be Real.” This message is reinforced throughout the GroupLink event.
A starter group is a group that has agreed to meet together for eight weeks to get to know each other and walk through the Starting Well curriculum. At the end of that time, they determine whether they want to stay together for another twelve to twenty-four months as a Community Group. The main purpose of a starter group is to get to know each other and form relationships. This sets the foundation for the group when it becomes a Community Group.
There are several steps that we work through with people in these situations. Our first step for them includes using our online connection tool to see if there are openings in their area of town. We list our current Community Group openings online for a few weeks after GroupLink. We also encourage people to join short-term Access Groups that begin a few months after GroupLink. Finally, we have people mark their calendars with the dates of the next GroupLink.
GroupLink is promoted through Sunday stage announcements, pre-service videos, bulletin inserts, emails, and social media. Additionally, there is a Sunday message given once a year that focuses on the importance of community.
Yes. We identify leaders prior to GroupLink. Each candidate completes an online application and meets with a Groups Director for an interview before the event.
Groups Directors are always working to recruit qualified people to lead Community Groups. Most group leaders come from existing group members who have decided to take a next step and serve as a group leader.
After our Community Group leaders are approved to lead, our Groups Directors talk with them about GroupLink and what to expect. They direct them to online training that has been created specifically for new group leaders. We also have the leaders come 90 minutes before the event starts and we serve them dinner and prepare them to meet their new groups. A large part of this is encouraging them to be open to what God wants to do through the new relationships formed.
When a group is formed without a leader, a contact person is appointed and the group works through a written guide we provide to help determine who might be a good candidate to apply for leadership.
One of our staff will be more than happy to answer your questions. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.