Getting people to turn up
If you are planning on running the course as part of your existing small group programme then people will turn up naturally. However, if you are planning on making this a new group or a special event then it is important to make it as easy for people to get there as you can. There is no one single approach that works for everyone but we have a few ideas that have worked for us:
Variety is the spice of life
Try to invite people from different backgrounds, with different ideas and different thoughts. The course works best when there is a cross-section of people to discuss their ideas and thoughts. The more varied the group, the richer the discussion.
The friendly approach
You will always get more people turn up if they are asked personally. So whether you are thinking about who to invite or already have a group in mind, the best approach is a personal invite. Decide who you would like to join the course and ask them personally –
face to face, where possible.
The shotgun approach
There may be more people who want to do this course than you realise; people who are grappling with the issues raised by the course but they don’t know about it yet. The “shotgun approach” is when you share about it in a large group of people, such as your local church, or you post it on your Facebook wall etc. This approach does not yield great numbers but you may find a key individual who really benefits from joining in your group.
Life is busy and time is precious. So getting the timing right for the course is crucial. If the six sessions are irregular, or too spread out, people will forget when the next session is and lose the momentum. On the other hand, if it is too regular, it can become tiring. We recommend you decide what works best for your group and make a joint-commitment to see it through together. We recommend that you meet weekly for the six sessions.
Location location location
plan to use your home as the venue and you live in the middle of nowhere with no public transport, don’t be surprised when only one person turns up. Choose a central venue that is easy to get to and from. It must be accessible and comfortable. People need a location where they will feel free to speak honestly about their thoughts and feelings.
When people combine Friendship First with a meal, they find that more people turn up and they are less likely to drop out. People find they benefit, not just from the course but, from the fellowship too.
Its about helping them
The more zealous we are for people to join the group, the more we are in danger of browbeating people into joining. So rather than “ought”, “should” or “must”, the language is of a resource designed to help, resource and inform.
The course is devised to help people reach out to their Muslim friends and colleagues, while getting a better understanding of how God is using multiculturalism and
immigration to move the gospel to the ends of the earth.
The course is not about promoting the ideas, plans or ministries of individuals but rather an opportunity to discover and nurture the seeds God has been planting in the hearts of participants, long before they heard about Friendship First.
In short the Friendship First experience is about “helping” participants in their journey, rather than enlisting them for some cause. The Friendship First resource pack helps them understand more of what’s going on and to discover that they have a part to play in what God is doing.
The more inadequate or ill-equipped group members feel the better. Friendship First starts where they are and helps them on a journey to a place where they can give a quiet and confident witness for Christ and learn how God is bringing Muslims into relationship with himself every day.