Within our church, Small Groups are the #1 venue for developing community and making sure people feel connected. For this reason, it's extremely important that we have a strategy for making sure that people don't "fall through the cracks." When I first began ministry in 1993, my Senior Pastor gave me some advice that has stuck with me through the years. He said that if someone misses one or two weeks of church, they might be on vacation or have a reasonable explanation as to why we haven't seen them in a couple of weeks. However, if someone misses three consecutive weeks... something is wrong.
Since then I developed the "3-Week Strategy" that we have implemented in our Small Groups. The concept is simple, we keep track of attendance every single week through Small Groups and when someone misses three consecutive weeks, they get a note/message from their Small Group Leader acknowledging that we have missed them. In most cases, the Small Group Leader is already aware of why a person has missed. It's understandable when someone misses one or two weeks of small groups due to busy schedules. For this reason, we try not to make people feel guilty for missing a week or two. However, if a someone misses three consecutive weeks of small groups, he/she should be contacted. Three consecutive absences are usually an indication that something is going on in the life of the individual and we should be pro-active in ministering to their needs. It has been my experience that most people return to small groups after they have been contacted.
Strength: Those who are involved in small groups are unlikely to fall through the cracks because of the high level of accountability.
Weakness: Those who are not involved in small groups and only attend large gatherings have less accountability and are more likely to fall through the cracks.
What follow-up strategy works well in your ministry?
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in vocational ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."