Small groups create Loving Relationships - they are a safe, non-threatening environment to bring to people to.
A Small Small Group (4-6 people) is really good for bonding people together at a deep level. I call this a mentoring group, but it is true - they tighten the knot of friendship and trust. Even if members of the group have known each other for years, spending time in a Mentoring Group will draw them even closer as they share and care for each other.
Church is the launching point for loving relationships. It is not the place to grow them. Just to start them. To grow the relationships you need to take the people somewhere else. A small group is a perfect place. A social event is good. A meal together in your home, a cafe or restaurant. Anything that is conducive to group discussion and mixing.
Who do you want in your church? What age group? What type of person is your primary target. Once you have that figured out, put those type of people as greeters in your church. Their presence as welcoming faces will say, "This is who we are here!"
Put a lot of effort into making people feel welcome. Snacks. Drinks. Room to mix and mingle. Open discussions. People trained to mix, mingle and laugh!
Observe the traffic lights! Know people well enough to know when to stop, when to slow down and when to go! Know when it's ok to move to the next level with people in their faith journey. This can only happen when you have an healthy active relationship. It is very important to develop real relationships with people. Small groups are the perfect environment for growing meaningful relationships.
Saying "I don't know" is an equaliser. A great way to connect with group members or personal friends. Having all the answers can be a real barrier for new people. Not knowing everything is bonding and comforting!
Friendships take about 18 months to build from scratch to the point of serious religious questioning. Therefore the relationships need to be real and build on common ground. Relationships built on the “I’m gonna make this person a Christian!” basis will be very difficult to maintain. Find a common interest and build on that. Love them to Jesus.
Manufactured environments can accelerate the time it takes to move into religious discussions. Small groups, Prophecy Seminars, church services, church camp, etc