Following the first big choice of what type and duration for the group, the next big choice is when and where. The choices here, although very obvious, are critically important to the group.
There are essentially four choices when it comes to when a where a group meets. The choices are:
- Weekend on the church campus;
- Weekend off of the church campus;
- Weekday on the church campus;
- Weekend off the church campus.
Off campus groups
Off campus groups can meet just about anywhere. An office, home, coffee shop, even a park can be a meeting place for off campus groups. If the group is not meeting in a time that is not adjacent to a worship service, then the group can meet a good distance from the church campus. This would be ideal if many of the group members live in the same area and are a long distance from the church.
However, an off campus group that is “connected” to a worship service at the church will need to meet closer to the church. Homes, businesses, restaurants, or schools that are near the church campus are prime locations for off-campus groups of this type. Many of these locations can be used free or for a small rental fee. Usually, whatever expense the church may have in rent or bussing people to nearby off campus locations is generally cheaper than purchasing land and building facilities. Off campus groups usually have the advantage of having less time restraints on their small group meeting and they also offer flexibility of meeting locations.
On campus groups
On campus groups (like Sunday School), meet on campus. They do not necessarily have to be connected to a worship service. Participants may attend a morning worship service and then return in the evening for small group or Sunday School. Generally, most on campus groups are connected to the worship service and have the advantage of helping families participate in small group and worship experiences in one trip to the church.
The real issue of big choice #2 is that churches that have groups that meet either before or after corporate worship attenders generally involve more members in Bible study than groups that meet during the week and are not connected to a worship service. Research from Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger’s book Transformational Groups reveals that an on campus group experience connected to a worship service is the preference of most guests.
On the other hand, a church must make an investment in parking lots and buildings, or rent nearby space and bus participants to nearby locations in order to accommodate this preference.
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School/Small Group specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. You can follow Bob on social media:
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