Where Do You Want to Go This Year?

By Steve Gladen

On Christmas Day, one of our traditions is to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and before presents are opened, we discuss what we want to give Jesus this coming year. Now before you think higher of my family than you should, this is not a lengthy theological discussion, and not always met with the greatest excitement. However this year we actually had some great discussion and lead to many rabbit trails conversations, some good and some…well, really?

Train Tracks

image credit: Creation Swap user Brandon Johnson

A rabbit trail conversation that turned interesting, was one of my kids wanted to ask Siri what she got for Christmas. The iPhone reply was perfect. She said, “I have learned to be content in what I have”. Now as a parent, this was a great springboard to drive home the value of being “content” and not wanting materialism to creep in. What it also brought up was the idea: do we ever NOT want to be content? Interesting, huh?

When you think of the New Year, for many of us it is about change. For many, it’s about being content. Culture calls these “New Year Resolutions” or “New Year Ruts”. What I have seen in many individuals, families and ministries at the New Year is not “change” but being “content”. I think both play a role in how we execute a Small Group Ministry; however, I tend to see contentment more than change. This is where your ministry can get a dangerous start to the year.

Being content is use in the Bible both in a positive sense (character and virtue) and negatively (not trusting with risk taking). I get “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”; but the art of goal setting (how can we improve) can get lost in contentment (i.e., comfort). Goal setting, challenging the norm, gets lost in many ways. Here some common ones:

  1. We don’t know how to set goals
  2. We don’t think about setting goals
  3. We don’t want to set goals (either for fear, comfort, or the risk)
  4. We will wait till the Holy Spirit directs us, which by the way I am not opposed to, as long as it isn’t an excuse for laziness. I love Proverbs 12:24, “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”

Below is a simple two part process you can you for your Small Group Ministry to challenge contentment and see if change can improve your ministry. I would encourage you to do this process with your team (paid or volunteer). Every one of us needs to ask the strategic question, “Where do you want to go this year?” To answer this question, you need to “Do S.W.O.T.” and “Be S.M.A.R.T.”

“Do S.W.O.T.” Have your team discuss your ministry strengths and list them. Then list your weakness. Follow that with what are the opportunities you dream to see happen. Then list the threats that would stop the dreams.

“Be S.M.A.R.T.” Have your team then discuss what would be the top three goals we would like to accomplish this year. To set those goals, frame them on these five questions:

Specific – What will you do?

Measurable – How do I know when it’s done?

Attainable – How will you do it?

Realistic – Who will run point?

Timely – When will you do it?

Contentment can be good and bad. I would challenge your Small Group Ministry to not let contentment to get in the way of some cool things God has in store for your ministry!

Do S.W.O.T. 

Strength:

Weakness:

Opportunities:

Threats:

BE S.M.A.R.T.

Specific – What will you do?

Measurable – How do I know when I’m done?

Attainable – How will you do it?

Realistic – Who will run point?

Timely – When will you do it?

(flesh out 3 of your goals below, making sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. & that you’re doing S.W.O.T.)

1.

2.

3.

Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen is Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church, which sees over 30,000 people gathering weekly in 5,000 small groups. He's the founder of SmallGroups.net and travels widely to speak on the topic of small groups and healthy, biblical community. He is the author of several books including Small Groups With Purpose and Leading Small Groups With Purpose.