The Biggest Factor in Successful Small Group Ministries

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What changes everything in small group ministry?  What’s the one thing that makes the biggest difference?

I’ve written about this many times in the last several years, but it’s clear to me that the one thing that changes everything is senior pastor support.  To be clear, I’m not talking about moral support.  I’m not talking about “I believe in what you’re doing” kind of support.  And I’m not talking about simply being a believer and participant (as a leader or a member) in a small group.

Those are all good things.  But they’re not ultimately the one thing that changes everything.

The one thing that changes everything is when a senior pastor truly becomes the small group champion.  Way more than a figure head or a front man, senior pastors that truly become small group champions actually lead the public charge for small group participation.

  • They look for opportunities to tell stories about the benefits of their own group
  • They look for moments when an interview or a testimony can cast the vision of grouplife
  • They already embrace small group ministry as delivery system for ministry
  • Their support goes well beyond an annual plug and all the way to a weekly (and even daily) reference

The one thing that changes everything is a clear advantage and the only way a church really becomes a church OF groups. [Click to Tweet]

The question might be…”How am I going to get that?

If you’re going to get it, here’s how to get it:

First, you need to become a student of how those stories are being told in churches that do it well.  I make it a point several times a month to check the websites and listen to or watch the messages from Saddleback and North Point.  I’m looking for the ways they use stories and content to cast vision.  If you see or hear something with potential, reach out to their staff and ask a question about how they developed that idea or pulled off that idea.  You probably need to begin to curate the videos you discover and the ideas you surface, watching for the right opportunity to pass them on.

Second, you need to be a constant resource for great stories about the power of small group ministry.  The more you pass on about what’s happening in groups, the better chance you have that some of those stories will find their way into messages and testimonies.  This makes it essential that you’re mining your coaches and group leaders for “the best thing that happened in your group this week.”  By the way, this probably means that you make it part of your weekly routine to find a time to regularly tell the best stories to your senior pastor.  Might be a calendared meeting.  Might be as simple as Tuesday afternoon after staff meeting.

Third, you need to adopt the perspective of the long view.  You’re probably not looking at a transformation that happens before your eyes.  But over time, with constant application of being a student and passing on what you’re learning…you might help your senior pastor become the one thing that changes everything.


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About Mark Howell

Mark Howell is the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, committed to helping churches launch, build, and sustain healthy small group ministries. He's also the Pastor of Discipleship Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church.  Having served as small group pastor at Woodlands Church and Lake Avenue Church, Mark is a seasoned veteran with experience in both the contemporary and the traditional church. In addition, he served as a consultant with Lifetogether and as a host for the Purpose Driven Campaign Coaching programs. You can read Mark's blog at www.markhowelllive.com or follow him on twitter.

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