How to host a campus outreach

6 Signs of a Great Small Group Outreach

"Small group" shouldn't mean "small impact." God has placed your Bible study in a particular place, and you have the opportunity to work together to reach the people around you. One fun way is by planning a small-group outreach event where you can invite friends to hear the gospel while having a good time.

Some examples of outreaches are:

  • Satisfy Your Soul: Each small-group member invites 1+ friends to enjoy soul food and spiritual conversation.
  • Minute to Win It: Each small-group member invites 1+ friends to a night of one-minute games alternated with one-minute spiritual questions.
  • Hands & Feet: Each small-group member invites 1+ friends to serve the homeless by offering manicures and pedicures (nail polish not required). Afterward, debrief the time by looking at how Jesus loved the least of these too.
  • "What is Real Love?" Valentine's Dinner: Each small-group member invites 1+ friends to a dinner where the topic of conversation or speaker presentation is on the topic of love with a clear connection to how Jesus shows his love.

Here is a list with six signs you've planned a great small-group outreach:

Sign 1: It Sounds Like Fun

Your outreach will be something that...

  • Is relevant and appealing for those you’re inviting
  • Is accessible yet clearly spiritual (accessible spiritual events are rare and valuable to non-Christians)
  • Your small group can do well
  • Has a catchy title and/or one-sentence description

Sign 2: It Makes Personal Invitations

The invitations to your outreach will...

  • Use the most personal way appropriate for your relationship with the invitee, which is probably face to face, and definitely more than a Facebook event invitation. Try saying, "I thought you might enjoy coming because…"
  • Be made by every small-group member. Everyone should try to bring at least one friend, and keep inviting until they find one.

Sign 3: It Has Starter Questions

Your outreach will get conversational gears turning about the topic and about God because it will...

  • Encourage people to talk in twos or threes during a specific part of the event
  • Use sample questions like:
    • What does ____ mean to you?
    • How do you try to find ____ in your life?
    • What connection do you think God has with ____?

Sign 4: It Includes a Testimony

At some point during your outreach, someone from your small group will share their story in a way that will...

  • Make the topic personal
  • Be relevant to others’ current situations or questions they’re asking
  • Not necessarily need to be a conversion testimony
  • Be real, not perfect

Sign 5: It Presents the Gospel

In order to have the conversation we always hope for, yet rarely get to, your outreach will...

  • Recognize that it’s cruel to deny our friends the answer we’ve found
  • Present what Christians believe about the topic and what Jesus has to say about it

Sign 6: It Invites a Response

Because the gospel is not information, it's an invitation from God, your outreach will...

  • Clearly invite people to say “yes” or “no”
  • Value compassion for friends over fear of their response
  • Offer multiple invitations—including for Christians—so no one feels singled out
  • Provide different ways people can respond (verbally, on a card, with an action)
  • Make sure small-group members are immediately available to listen to people to learn what they’re thinking and decide how to help them next.

Think back on a small-group outreach you've tried. How did it measure up to these six signs? Which sign could you improve upon to try the outreach again soon? Or, brainstorm a small-group outreach you could do this semester and share your ideas for how it could meet the six signs. Leave your thoughts in a comment below.