Dear Senior Pastor,
Just wanted to take a moment to remind you of a few things. Most of them you probably already know. A few you might’ve forgotten. One might be a complete surprise.
First, if you want your church to be a church of groups, if you want your church to a be a church where nobody stands alone, if you want to be a church with more adults in groups than you have on the weekend…you have to be the small group champion.
You have to be the small group champion. You can’t delegate that role. You can’t farm it out to the small group pastor or director. You can’t give that role to an elder or deacon who is really passionate about groups.
If you want to be a church with a pervasive small group ministry…you’re going to have to be the small group champion. And there are two ways that you’ll need to step to the front:
- To begin with, you’ll need to champion community on your staff and among your key leadership. You’ll need to model the idea that ministry is about doing life together. Whether you do this naturally or not, you’ll need to learn to embed the idea of together in everything your staff and key leadership does.
- You’ll also need to begin to be the recognizable champion of grouplife in the congregation. Doesn’t mean you can’t have announcements or bulletin blurbs that support what you talk about. But it does mean that you can’t preach your sermon and then call up the small group pastor to “tell us what’s going to be happening with 40 Days of Purpose.” Instead, you’ll need to begin to work stories about your own group and testimonies from group members and group leaders about the power of grouplife into the message itself.
By the way, I believe that one of the main reasons that Saddleback has connected over 130% of their weekend adult attendance in groups is that Rick Warren is the small group champion.
Second, if you want to reach into the crowd (and even into the community) you’re going to need to cast vision of life in community beyond the core and congregation. That means that it can’t be an annual sermon on the importance of grouplife. To actually reach the crowd (and even into the community) with this message, you’ll have to be talking about it 52 weeks a year. Why? Because while the core and even the congregation (to use Saddleback’s concentric circle idea) may attend 3 or even 4 times a month…the folks in the crowd are only attending once a month or once a quarter. They may only be showing up for Easter and Christmas! If you want to reach into the crowd, you’re going to have to talk about grouplife relentlessly (I believe this is the number one reason that Saddleback has connected over 130% of their weekend adult attendance in community).
Not only are you going to have to talk about grouplife more frequently, you’re going to have to learn to recognize and select topics that will appeal to spiritual newbies. You’ll need to learn to choose from the easy end of what I call the Easy/Hard continuum. When you choose a topic for your next church-wide campaign, it will make much more sense to choose Live Like You Were Dying or One Month to Live (or for that matter, to redo 40 Days of Purpose) in order to include the folks in the crowd.
Third, you’re going to need to coordinate themes and topics that emphasize groups throughout the year. For the reasons I’ve already mentioned…you can’t take a one shot annual approach and hope to get it done. Instead, you’ll need to think about how grouplife applies to almost everything and work it into the messages you do all year long.
Finally, you’re going to need to be the big gun, issuing a clear call to action. When you take time in your message to ask for a response (and an easy way to respond is included in the service) the most effective outcome can be expected. If it appears to be an afterthought…it will have that kind of response. Ho hum, no big deal. If you want a big response, you’re going to need to give the ask priority.
Senior Pastors…we’re counting on you to lead the way and let God use you and your position to build grouplife!
You can read my four part series on The Role of the Senior Pastor right here.