Sometimes you just need to laugh…
Spoiler Alert: The most connected people in your congregation almost always have the fewest connections in the community.
Four Things You Need to Know
I use this drawing to illustrate an important concept. There are four things you need to know in order to understand the drawing,
First, the circle represents your adult attendance on Easter. As you know, the difference between your average adult attendance and your Easter adult attendance is not that everyone brings a friend. Instead, the main reason your attendance is higher on Easter is that everyone comes on the same weekend. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?
Second, the square represents the people in your congregation who are truly connected. That is, if something happened to them or a member of their family, someone else in your congregation would find out about it within 24 hours without anyone calling the church. A pink slip at work. Marital issues. A scary medical diagnosis. A teenager who goes south. 24 hours. Someone else knows.
Third, if you were to interview the folks in the square (the most connected people in your congregation) and ask who their 10 closest friends are in your area, you’d find out that 8, 9, or even all 10 of them are also inside the square. Now, before you get excited, there are exceptions (many church staff members, those with the gift of evangelism, etc.). But in general, the most connected people in your congregation are the least connected in the community.
Fourth, when you interview the folks in the circle you’ll find out that 8, 9, or even all 10 of their best friends have never been to your church. Let me repeat that:
When you interview the folks in the circle you’ll find out that 8, 9, or even all 10 of their best friends have never been to your church.
Here’s the big idea: If you want to recruit hosts who can fill their own group with unconnected neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members…you need to learn how to recruit from the circle. Churches that keep going back to the well of the usual suspects (the most connected) shouldn’t be surprised when hosts from the square don’t know their neighbors.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
“There are no problem-free systems, models, or strategies. Every system, model and strategy comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.”
I refer to this “quote” in almost every consultation, coaching call, workshop, and seminar I give. I believe this line is a version of something Niccolò Machiavelli wrote in The Prince, but I’ve never confirmed it.
Regardless, I believe the pursuit of problem-free delays more ministry than almost anything else. I also believe there are no problem free small group ministry systems, models or strategies.
I know many struggle with even getting a coaching structure going. I also know that many have given up on even offering coaching (as a result of ineffectiveness).
But…if you have coaches, how do you train them as they begin?
Since you’re a reader here, I assume you’ve already looked at my strategies for building an effective coaching structure (Perhaps you’ve even taken advantage of my mini-course: How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure – The 2016 Version).
Still, what are you doing to train new coaches as they begin?
Remember, the number one predictor of new groups that survive and flourish is that they have a coach who is walking alongside them from the very beginning.
If you don’t have a plan or you need help, you really should take advantage of Basic Training for New Small Group Coaches (my newest mini-course). This new mini-course can be used two ways:
Either way…your new coaches start their ministry the right way. It’s a win – win.
So…what do you think? How are you training your new coaches? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Keri-Lee Beasley
I have never been more proud than when my prospective boss at Parkview was told, “If you’re okay with a mad scientist, Mark will be a good hire.”
And no other statement has rocked my imagination like this one from Craig Groeschel: “If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing.” Translation: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep reaching who you’ve always reached.
Image by Freaktography
Although the LifeGuide Bible Study series is not new, it will be to many small group leaders and group members. While more than 15 million LifeGuide studies have been sold over the years, it’s likely that it will be unfamiliar to most of your group leaders and members.
Since it is very common for group leaders to look for a study that will guide their group through a book of the Bible, a particular part of the Bible, or an important topic of the Bible, there’s even a LifeGuide Finder designed to help your leaders choose the right next Bible study for their group. You can sample it right here.
I particularly like the easy-to-use format of these studies. Every study includes a helpful “Getting the Most out of ____________” section that does a good job of introducing the significance of the Bible book or topic as well as important themes. Leaders and members who want to really dig in deeply will want to read this section.
An inductive Bible study, the individual lessons within each study are straightforward and well-written, designed to help members discover for themselves what the Bible is saying. A group discussion starter question (like an ice-breaker) is included to prime the discussion pump. There is also a question for personal reflection that will help focus members on the important topic about to be discussed. The flow of the study questions takes members from observation to interpretation to application.
Leader’s notes are included in every study guide, making this study an easy one for members to take turns facilitating.
If you’re looking for a series of reliable and easy-to-use studies for groups ready to dig into the Bible, consider bookmarking this site to pass on to your leaders. I like this series and I’m sure your leaders and members will as well.
If you’ve been following the conversation here for very long you know that I believe all signs point to a rapidly shifting culture, quickly moving to a post-Christian America.
Hopefully, that is not breaking news for you.
Clearly, there have already been massive shifts in culture with more to come.
And that leads me to today’s question: How keen is your cross-cultural awareness?
Put another way, how keenly aware are you of the difference between your preferences, understandings and assumptions and those of the unconnected people in your crowd and community (and I would argue, even those of the outer edge of your congregation)?
How keenly aware are you of the difference between your preferences, understandings and assumptions and those of the unconnected people in your crowd and community?
I’m not sure how to measure cross-cultural awareness, but I do know our ability to connect unconnected people absolutely depends on it. If cross-cultural awareness is measured on a continuum, we must be on the keen end if we want any hope of successfully connecting unconnected people and making disciples.
If you want to connect the unconnected people in your crowd and community, developing a keen awareness of their preferences, understandings, and assumptions is essential.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Scott Beale
I think we’ve all experienced what happens when you’re driving, maybe changing lanes, and suddenly a loud horn honking from a car you did not see breaks up what was a perfectly uneventful commute. At a minimum, it’s embarrassing! And at its worst…well, it can end up costing you a lot of money.
When you buy a new car you learn where its blindspots are. And you take precautions. Hopefully.
When your repeatedly drive to the office or your children’s school you learn where the blindspots are.
At last year’s Global Leadership Summit you may have learned from both Bill Hybels and Sheila Heen that our personal blindspots are tough to become self-aware of and require the courage to ask friends and co-workers to help us begin to see them.
Blindspots can also limit the impact of small group ministries. In fact, I think there are a set of very common blindspots that may be limiting your small group ministry. See if you’re aware of blindspot #1:
Question: How do you identify potential small group leaders?
If the primary way you identify potential small group leaders involves choosing from among current small group members, you most likely are unaware of blindspot #1.
If the primary way you identify potential small group leaders involves challenging your apprentice leaders to start new groups, you most likely are unaware of blindspot #1.
Very Important: Here is the real situation. Pay careful attention to the next paragraph. What I am about to tell you may cause you to eliminate a blindspot.
Unless your percentage connected is very high, it is likely that many or most of the highest capacity potential leaders are not currently in a group. Can you see that? Also, once your attendance grows beyond a certain number it becomes more and more likely that your staff will not really know everyone who attends. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?
If you read the previous paragraph carefully, you should now be aware of a potentially damaging blindspot.
Now, when you become aware of a blindspot in your car or a blindspot at a certain intersection, you adjust the way you drive. Right?
And if you’ve become aware of a blindspot in how you identify potential small group leaders, you need to adjust the way you choose new leaders. Right? At a minimum, you will be wise to figure out how to avoid injury!
Only choosing new leaders from among the usual suspects is a terrible ministry decision at the very heart of many, many stuck small group ministries. The fact is, the best potential leaders in many churches are not yet in a group and are unknown by the staff and key leadership recruiting new leaders. The genius of both the small group connection strategy and the HOST strategy within a church-wide campaign is that these strategies help identify leaders from outside the usual suspects. See also, How to Launch New Groups Using a Small Group Connection and 7 Things You Should Know about the HOST Strategy.
What do you think? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Alan Hudson
We all make a lot of decisions. Sometimes we make good or even great decisions. Sometimes we decide to do something and immediately regret our decision. Other times we make a decision and really don’t figure out it was a bad one until months or even years later.
When the decision affects us (and rarely) only us, it’s frustrating.
But when the decision affects the lives of others…well that can be more than frustrating.
Have you ever made a list of the worst decisions you ever made? Maybe a list of friends, exes, purchases, job changes, etc.?
What do you think? Have one to add? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Riccardo Cuppini
Over the last 8 years I’ve written a lot about small group coaching. A LOT! I tried determining the actual top 10 posts (according to Google Analytics), but realized after the fact that many were written in 2008 and 2009…and there are some big ideas that have emerged in the last two or three years.
Coaching, you know, is so important! Why? As challenging and difficult as it is to build an effective coaching structure, I believe if you don’t have coaching in place you will almost certainly fail at building a thriving small group ministry. Why? I believe this because I am convinced that whatever you want to happen at the member level, must happen to the leader first. [Click to Tweet]
So…these are my favorites. Hope you find them helpful!
Here are my top 10 posts on small group coaching:
And I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you about one of my most popular mini-courses: How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure. You can find out all about it right here.