We’ve all been to church conferences or seminars where great speakers dispense great information. But we have noticed that most of the practical learnings and best practices are shared “in the lobby” with other Small Group Ministry leaders like you. The Small Group Network is gathering the sharpest, brightest, and most innovative 20s/30s small group practitioners from around the world for the purpose of exchanging ministry strategies, learnings, and best practices in a peer-to-peer environment.Continue Reading
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“… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind … Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27 (NCV)
Cultivating community requires commitment
If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you would like to cultivate real fellowship and a loving community in your small group, Sunday school class, and church, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.
Cultivating community takes honesty
Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.
Cultivating community takes humility
Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.
Cultivating community takes courtesy
The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: we are family.
Cultivating community takes confidentiality.
Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality…
Here are what I believe are the top 5 reasons:
- They aren’t being developed and discipled by a coach. This is probably the most common reason small group leaders quit. If someone (a coach or mentor) isn’t investing in them, it is unreasonable to think that the average leader will continue for long. While there will always be exceptional leaders who are essentially self-motivated, they are by definition the exceptions to the rule. Intentional investment in your leaders will overcome this very common reason for quitting. See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciples Leaders.
- No one in their group is sharing the load. Some small group leaders don’t know any better and have never been coached to share the load with the members of their group. Others come naturally by misplaced pride that “since they do everything better than everyone else”…they can’t really let go of anything. Both patterns ultimately lead to burnout; both patterns lead to pent up frustrations that they…
Some launches go better than others. Over the last 10+ years of group launches both in the churches I’ve served as well as churches I’ve coached, we have seen some significant progress and we’ve seen some incremental growth. Whether your launch feels exponential or expected really comes down to your grasp of four keys.
1. Is Your Senior Pastor All In?
Having been an associate pastor for over 20 years, I know that if I invite people to lead groups, I will get 30 percent the result of my senior pastor. How do I know this? Well, after reaching the seventh year of my five year plan, I only had 30 percent of our adults in groups. The first time my senior pastor make the invitation, we doubled our groups in a day, and within six months, we had 125 percent of our average adult attendance in groups. Now, that’s not funny pastor math. Not everyone attends every Sunday, but they will go to their group. And, we had a good number of people who had never darkened the door of our church join groups as well.
Let’s face it, if people aren’t connected to each…Continue Reading
Here are three very important things to know (and links to other key posts on this topic):
First, every small group model, system or strategy comes with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. I like to say, “there are no problem-free small group models, systems or strategies.” That said, be prepared to acknowledge that there is an upside and a downside to every model.
If you like the semester model, don’t overlook the challenge of confirming which leaders will commit for the next semester and what they will study…early enough to assemble your catalog of available groups. If you like the cell group model, don’t turn a blind eye to the reality that groups don’t always birth new groups fast enough to absorb the number of unconnected people in your congregation. If you like the campaign-driven strategy, be prepared for messy. See also, Breaking: No Problem-Free Small Group System, Model or Strategy.
Second, the model you choose should be predetermined by what you hope to accomplish. Before…Continue Reading
5 Quick Ideas that Will Connect More People This Fall
- Plan a small group connection. Pick an appealing small group study. Pick a convenient day and time. Promote the connection 3 weekends in a row. It’s just about that simple. The study you choose determines who will attend. The process itself is designed to identify leaders at every table. You’ll find plenty of detail in How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection.
- Plan a 6 week on-campus study that leads to an off-campus group. Choose a study that will grab the attention of a select group of people (i.e., Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage). If you have more than one group you’d like to target, choose the perfect study for each target (i.e., couples, men, women, etc.). Choose a convenient night and time when you have available on-campus space. Arrange child-care. Promote the study 3 weeks in a row. You’ll find additional details in Take Advantage…
So…if we’re all trying to hit the same target, why are so many of our discipleship strategies missing the mark?
Any theories? I have a few and before you think I believe I have it all together, I’m actually guilty of a few of these myself!
Here are 6 reasons our discipleship strategies miss the mark:
- We don’t actually have a strategy. We really have more of a theology of wishful thinking. We spend time planning everything from our weekend services and special events to staff retreats and the updated vacation policy, but we don’t get around to developing a discipleship strategy. In the place of a strategy we are hopeful. I love this line from Winston Churchill. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” If you don’t like your results, change the strategy….
Most of us quickly recognize the signs that there is something wrong with the way our car’s engine sounds or feels. When our car dies at the stop light or backfires as we drop off our teenage daughter at school…we get it. There’s something wrong with the engine. We may not know what it is but we know it’s time for a tune up.
But do you know the signs your small group ministry is due for a tune up?
5 signs your small group ministry is due for a tune up:
- You never need to start new groups because there’s always room in your existing groups. This is a serious sign that your small group ministry needs a tune up. It’s a problem for two reasons. First, the hardest place for a new member to connect is in an existing group where relationships are already established. The easiest place for a new member to connect is in a group where everyone is new. Second, small group leaders (and members) of existing groups need to learn to “fish” for new members. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups…
Pastor Rick Warren and Pastor Tim Harlow discuss what it takes to structure a church for long term growth and health. In this video, they discuss the vital importance of small groups, of succession planning, and of the need for systems to sustain a healthy church long term.
Click here to find out more about the Life On Mission campaign!Continue Reading
The way these questions are answered should play a role in how your ministry is designed. And the design of your ministry absolutely determines the results you should anticipate. See also, 7 Signs You Have a Bad Design for Small Group Ministry.
- What need(s) do people have that might best be met by a small group? Which of these needs would be seen as most pressing? Which of these needs could be met in the same small group? While there may be some overlap in your answers and mine, your answers should define your direction.
- What will have to be…
If God allowed you to baptize hundreds of new believers, add hundreds of new members, and increase your average attendance by thousands in just 40 days, would you call that a revival?
If, during those same 40 days, God prompted people in your church who were previously uninvolved to start serving in ministry, and caused others to commit to a world missions project, what would you call that? An Awakening?
What term would you use if God led your members to become so concerned for their lost friends that they convinced their neighbors to study the Bible for six weeks in one of thousands of small groups meeting in homes around your city? A Miracle?
Well, whatever you call it, all this has actually happened at Saddleback Church during the various campaigns that we’ve conducted over the years, and we stand in awe at what God has done. And God has repeatedly worked through campaigns hosted by thousands of churches around the world in similar ways.
Untold thousands have come to Christ, been baptized, welcomed into church membership, connected to a small group or Sunday School class, taught the meaning of real worship and fellowship, equipped for ministry, and then sent out for their…Continue Reading