Archives For Small Groups

Coach for GroupYou can’t wait until the end of the summer to prepare for the fall ministry season.  Have you figured this out yet?  Most likely you’re on to this fact of life…but even if you are, you might need an idea or two about how to prepare and what to focus on.  See also, What To Do Before You Plan Another Church-Wide Campaign.

Here are 5 things I believe must be done in June:

  1. Meet with your senior pastor to clarify involvement and fine-tune where necessary.  It really doesn’t matter what strategy you’re using this fall to launch new groups, you need your pastor in the game.  Integrating the HOST ask into their sermon is essential.  Leveraging their influence at a HOST gathering is a huge opportunity.  Casting the vision for everyone to be involved in a group is something that only your pastor can do.  June is the time to confirm and clarify involvement (before vacations and/or study breaks).  See also, 6 Ways to Help Your Senior Pastor Make the Small Group Ask.
  2. Make sure your existing small group leaders are aware of the fall plans.  ”Why…

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Rookie

“That was a rookie mistake.”

Ever heard that? Ever said it to yourself? Probably all of us have been there and done that.

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes of rookie small group pastors:

  1. Trying to take care of too many small group leaders. This is a very common mistake and reflects a lack of understanding of span of care. Caring for too many can only do two things: burn out the caregiver or provide inadequate and watered down care. See also, Span of Care and How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.
  2. Propping up existing groups instead of starting new groups. It happens to all of us and if we let it, it will happen over and over. ”We are down to three couples…if you could send us a couple more it would be helpful.” This is a losing proposition. Far better to prioritize new groups and teach existing group leaders how to be on the lookout for new members. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs. Start New Groups and Great Question: How Do I Train Leaders to…

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Exponential GrowthSometimes we know we need to make changes in our strategy, but we remain stuck because we’re focusing on the wrong variable.

Here are 5 simple small group ministry moves with exponential payoffs:

  1. Clarify and simplify your “leader” requirements.  What is in your current “leader” requirements that might be keeping the very first step into “leadership” from happening?  For example, you may want small group leaders to be members, to complete new leader training, and to be connected to a coach.  Is there are first step into leadership that can happen without membership?  Perhaps a preliminary category will enable a much larger number of first steps into leadership (like the person who picks of a grab-and-go pack and invites their own friends to join).  See also, Leader Requirements: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar? and Customized Leader Requirements and Benefits
  2. Focus on starting new groups.  Whenever you have a choice, start new groups rather than adding new members to existing groups.  This may seem counterintuitive, but new groups have a much better chance of sticking than a new member added to an existing group.  Groups…

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What On Earth?Saddleback released the 40 Days of Purpose church-wide campaign in 2002.  Although they had previously launched internal spiritual growth campaigns, this one really was a just-add-water option.  Of course, in 2002 it really was just about the only option.

Today, there are lots of options and there are more all the time.  I’ve reviewed many of them and cataloged them here for your convenience.  How to choose?  I’d highly recommend my article, “How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.”

The Nearly Complete List of Church-Wide Campaigns (as of 4/29/14)

Note: This list is alphabetical.  In most cases, I’ve linked to my own review of the campaign.

Fresh New Growth

Here’s a growth axiom you can take to the bank. Whether you are pastoring a (large, medium, or small) church…leading a youth group…overseeing a music ministry…or involved with any other aspect of a church in which you believe God desires growth, it is just about guaranteed. Here it is:

New Units = New Growth

It’s a proven principle. New Sunday school classes attract new people. New small groups involve new people. New worship services connect with new people. New churches reach new people.

Why It Works

The most common application of this principle is in starting new groups. Here is why the strategy of starting new groups is so predictably successful:

  • New groups respond to human need. In long-established groups, members just like to be together. Relationships have become the primary value. And that’s good. But, often such groups lose their outward-focus and no longer contribute to the growth of the church. Starting a new group focuses on a specific human need(s) and how the new group will meet that need. Starting new groups directs a church’s focus outward.
  • New groups involve new people. Because new groups focus on meeting needs, those who were not…

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Healthy Small GroupI get a steady stream of emails asking for help with small group ministries.  I also find myself sitting down with small group pastors and senior pastors when I’m at conferences (or when ministry teams stop in to see me in Vegas).

It’s fun and I love the opportunity to help.  But I thought it might help you to know that I ask the same basic diagnostic questions in almost every case.  Yes…there are exceptions and yes, the answers lead me to different follow up questions.  But the set of first questions is such a pattern I thought it might help you to see what they are.

The First 7 Questions I Ask:

  1. What is your church’s average adult worship attendance?  Depending on your church’s philosophy of ministry, you might need to back out children and students in worship, but this is an important number.
  2. What is your church’s Easter or Christmas Eve adult attendance?  Again, this may take some thinking and it might require an intelligent guess.  You need to know this number though, since it is a more accurate reflection of the number of adults who consider your church to be their church.
  3. How…

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Small Group

I get questions…a lot of questions!  When they apply to lots of people, I try to answer them here on the blog!  This is one of those times.  Here’s a question from a reader:

How do you motivate people in the pews & leadership to join a group? What are the keys to get everyone into a group?

That is a great question…don’t you think?

I’ve answered this question in different ways a number of times, but maybe never quite from this angle.  Let me take a fresh shot.

First, motivating everyone to join a group (from members and attendees to church leadership begins with your senior pastor.  It cannot be otherwise and to attempt it without your senior pastor’s full engagement is folly.  Don’t get me wrong, you can have small groups without your senior pastor’s help.  In my experience almost all churches have a group of people who will find a way to connect to a group whether groups are a priority or not.  In fact, there are people in nearly every church who find a way to connect even if it was discouraged.  But if we’re talking about getting everyone in a group…that begins with…

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Christians In the WorkplaceDid you know that our work can be worship to God, as well as service to God and others? Work is something we all do, either full-time throughout our adult lives or during various phases of our lives. But the Hebrew word for “work” in the Old Testament also means “worship” and “serve.”

Christians in the Workplace: Equipping You to Live Out Your Faith at Work has been carefully designed to energize and equip you to follow Christ as you fulfill your job description. Each lesson offers you the opportunity to transform the way you perform your work every day.

Sessions include:

  • God Call and Equips Us to Do Our Work
  • Work as Ministry
  • Work as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth and Maturity
  • Work as a Means to Cultivate Moral and Ethical Behaviors
  • Work as an Opportunity to Witness
  • Putting it All Together

Now, it’s up to you. Will you join us on this transformative journey?

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QuestionsI love a great question.  I actually look for them and even write them down when I hear them or copy them when I read them.  See also, Quotebook: Never Stop Questioning.

But there are some questions that are absolutely the wrong question and they lead to the wrong answer.  See also, The Right Answer to the Wrong Question.

Here are a few of my favorite frequently asked wrong questions:

  1. Why can’t we find enough qualified leaders to connect the people who sign up to join a group?  The short answer?  You are probably using an old school system that depends on apprenticing, signing up potential leaders to training courses, or pleading with obviously qualified members to leave the group they love and start a new one.  What’s the right question?  What system(s) eliminate this issue?  Taking my cue from the Andy Stanley line that your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results that you are currently experiencing, I can say with certainty that the design of the system you are using is the issue.  See also, Top 5 Keys to Starting New Groups. Lots of New Groups and My Top 3 Ninja Ideas for…

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Launch

There are many ways to launch new groups.  If you’ve limited your attempts to one strategy…you truly do not know what you are missing.

Here are my top 10 ways to launch new groups:

  1. Launch a church-wide campaign.  If you want to launch a wave of groups, there is absolutely no better way.  This strategy leverages the external connections of hosts and with the right campaign can provide an amazing link into the community.  See also, The Exponential Power of a Church-Wide Campaign and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.
  2. Hold a Small Group Connection.  The key to this strategy is that it connects the people who come to the event and doesn’t require “pre-qualified leaders” going into the event.” See also, How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection.
  3. Plan and launch GroupLink.  This is an excellent strategy.  If you are a fast growing church and late to the game, it will not catch a moving train.  But…if you’re looking for a plug-and-play concept that will work in season and out…you’ve got to consider this one.  See also, North Point’s Small Group System.
  4. Launch sermon-based groups.  It is…

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Son of God Study KitWhat would happen if you applied the lessons from events in Jesus’ life—temptation, suffering, death, resurrection—to your own? Would you come to know Him more intimately and with a greater understanding of your purpose? Would you embody more completely the mission, love, and mind of Jesus? This DVD small group study, based on producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s major theatrical release, Son of God, features New York Times bestselling author Pastor Rick Warren as he explains how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus.

Whether you’re exploring the life of Jesus for the first time, or ready to take your faith to a deeper level, this study gives you practical steps to overcome temptation, suffering, and persecution and leverage these challenges to discover and fulfill God’s plan for your life.

This kit includes one study guide and one DVD with clips from the movie and follow-up by Rick Warren including exercises, prayers, discussion questions, and more. The study includes 6 sessions:

  • Jesus’ Baptism and Your Baptism
  • Jesus’ Temptation and Your Temptation
  • Jesus’ Suffering and Your Suffering
  • Jesus’ Death and Your Death
  • Jesus’…

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Small Group Misalignment

Does your strategic dashboard light up with flashing warning signals and even alarm bells when you run certain diagnostics?  Or do you find yourself reporting that “everything is fine” even when you find yourself uneasy about what’s really happening?

I’ve written about the top 1o signs your small group ministry needs a reboot and a 5 step plan for rebooting your small group ministry, but it occurred to me that you might not necessarily recognize several key misalignment signals.

What am I calling a misalignment signal?  Why am using that term?  Pretty simple really.  It is very common to find myself mid-conversation with a pastor and suddenly discover that they’ve chosen a strategy that just isn’t the right one given their results.  They may hope things will work out, but the signals their system is giving off clearly indicate that something is very wrong.  See also, 5 GroupLife Dots You May Not Be Connecting.

Here are 5 serious misalignment signals:

  1. Your senior pastor is ineffective at making the HOST ask and the response is always less than you hope.  It has been my observation that a well-executed HOST ask should generate a response from…

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