Skip to content

3 Keys for Building Engagement by Sherry Surratt

How do you get people to engage with your parachurch ministry, church, or business? Whether getting people in the pew or finding clients for your service, it is all about relationships.

Here are a few relationship lessons we’ve learned at Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International over nearly 40 years of ministry:

1. Get Them in the Door

When we asked moms why they came to MOPS, some saw signage or knew about the ministry from another experience, but most came because a friend invited them. Having great facilities and programming helps, but young families aren’t likely to walk into an unfamiliar place on a Sunday morning. A relational entry point is winsome. “Come join this great group of moms who will understand exactly what you are going through” is an irresistible invitation for a lonely, isolated mom. Her first few months of going through the door of a church are likely to be on a weekday morning or evening, not a Sunday. A relational strategy can get people in the door to experience a taste of ministry so they are hungry to return.

Even as culture has changed over the decades since MOPS started in 1973, the relational need that attracted moms to the first MOPS group is the same one that draws over 90,000 moms to 3,500 groups worldwide today. It’s the attraction that God built into human hearts. How can this relational strategy extend your own ministry?

2. Engage Them

As you build relationships with those attracted to your ministry, the stronger the web of relationships, the more “sticky” those relationships will be. We’ve learned that moms who develop relationships with at least three other moms in their group are likelier to stay in MOPS. So having one connection isn’t enough; we need to engage people on multiple levels with multiple relationships. That’s why the structure of MOPS has always been to provide solid teaching content to equip moms to be better moms, but the core ingredient in the group experience is the small group discussions where moms can wrestle with and apply the teaching content. Such engagement fosters deeper relationships.

3. Keep Them

Moving people from the first taste of a relationship to deeper engagement is important, but growing their influence is the key to deeper investment. Our research shows that women often desire to step into a leadership role in a group but hesitate because they question their own abilities. They will often not believe they can lead until their leadership gifts are noticed by someone else, and they are invited to step up and lead. Men often voluntarily step into or create a leadership opportunity, but many women wait to be asked and affirmed.

Forming relationships in a group with like-minded women gives them the courage and confidence they need. Through MOPS groups, we’ve seen women step into other leadership roles in their church and community and even go on to start their own businesses. Providing a platform for personal development is a powerful connecting point to the ministry. Women who can point back to their transformative experience in MOPS become champions of the ministry. They have developed relationships, become engaged, and grow.

Last year alone, 4,000 moms came to a relationship with Christ through a MOPS group. And the numbers don’t stop there. Most of these moms invited their husbands and children to attend church with them, influencing many of them to start a relationship with Christ as well.


Sherry Surratt is the CEO and president of MOPS International, located in Denver, CO. This post is an excerpt from Outcomes magazine, Summer 2012.



What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

Upcoming Events

Check back later!