5 Essential Practices of a 21st Century Small Group System

Want to build a small group ministry for the 21st century?  I think there are a few essential practices.  In fact, if you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you need to:

  1. Look for leaders who are closer to the edge of your congregation.  If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you’ve got to find ways to identify, recruit and develop potential leaders from the outer edges of the congregation and inner edges of the crowd.  The small group connection strategy is an example of this and so is the host strategy coupled with a church-wide campaign.  Both strategies implemented correctly are designed to produce unexpected leaders.  See also The X Factor is Near the Edge
  2. Characterize connected in community as normal.  If you want to connect way beyond the average adult weekend attendance, you’ll need to leave behind the idea that small group involvement is somehow extracurricular, a menu choice, heroic or sacrificial.  Instead, grouplife must be seen as an ordinary part of the Christ-follower pattern.  See also Top 10 Reasons Saddleback Has Connected Over 130% in Small Groups
  3. Prioritize the needs and interests of unconnected people.  Too often we’re spending our energy trying to satisfy the interests of the already connected at the expense of the unconnected.  If you want what you’re doing in the 21st century to matter, you must develop an others first mentality.  See also Preoccupied with the Needs and Interests of the Right People
  4. Design grouplife to function as both next step and first step.  It becomes more likely every day that first steps will happen outside of the weekend service.  Come over for dinner is easier than come with me to church.  At the same time, since the optimal environment for life-change is a small group (not listening to the pastor’s sermon or Bible teaching in an ABF), next steps must be built into the life of the group I’m already in.  See also Next Steps for Everyone and First Steps for Their Friends
  5. Integrate discipleship into the ordinary grouplife experience.  Not a class or an elective, discipleship must become factory installed.  Not an add on.  Not an upgrade.  Built into the ordinary function of every small group.  See also Diagnosing Your Discipleship Strategy

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

  • Cheryl

    Hi Mark:  My son is starting a community outreach “church” in his home.  This is good information for him. Thanks

  • markchowell

    Awesome! Thanks Cheryl!

  • Randall Neighbour

    These are all good points and so needed. They’d make five good chapter titles for a book!

  • markchowell

    Thank you Randall! I really appreciate your affirmation.

    mark