What Do You Believe about Groups that Actually Isn’t True?

axiomatic lock

What Do You Believe about Groups that Actually Isn’t True?

When you think about small groups and small group ministry, the way they work and don’t work, what they are and aren’t, what they can do and can’t do…what do you believe about groups, that actually isn’t true?

What do you believe about groups…that actually isn’t true?

Ever stop to think about that?

It could make quite a difference, you know. If you came to terms with what you believe is true about groups that actually isn’t it could be revolutionary.

If you carefully examined what you believe is true about groups and then acted to change anything based on a misbelief…it would almost certainly produce an immediate change in results.

Right?

Remember, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley).” If you don’t like the results, it may be that your design is based on a belief or two that isn’t actually true.

A personal example

In the early 90s I became aware of Meta Church Model of small groups (a largely American version of the cell model). Willow Creek embraced a version of the meta church model in the early 90s and successfully leveraged that model to connect 20,000 people in about a decade of application.

Among the most important strategic pieces of the meta church model is the value of apprenticing as both a leadership development strategy and a leader multiplication strategy. At the core of the apprenticing value was the practice that every new group had to begin with a leader and an apprentice in place and the explicit understanding that when the group grew and was ready to birth (approximately 10 to 12 members), both the mother and the daughter group would both have leaders. The expectation was that this process might take 12 to 18 months.

I embraced the model (as practiced by Willow Creek) and for 7 or 8 years not only put it to use in my own ministry but taught it to other churches that I came in contact with.

Two important notes:

  1. Apprenticing as a leadership development strategy is very effective. Experienced leaders investing in new leaders is always a good thing. It is a biblical practice. It is a stewardship practice. Everyone ought to be apprenticing.
  2. Apprenticing as a leader multiplication strategy is less effective.  Apprenticing as a leader multiplication strategy is often ineffective for two main reasons:
  • Too often the apprentice actually functions as a type of co-leader. Perhaps stepping in when the leader is out of town or taking a turn leading the discussion, but without the intention of one day helping launch a daughter group.
  • More seriously, apprenticing as a leader multiplication strategy typically takes 12 to 18 months. While they would never turn down additional leaders, most churches would not be able to close their percentage connected gap by producing a new leader every 12 to 18 months. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?

After a careful analysis I came to the conclusion that, at least in my case and for what I was trying to accomplish, apprenticing would not be a primary tool for leadership multiplication. Valuable for leader development, yes, but multiplication, no. Other strategies are much more effective at leader multiplication.

What axiomatic beliefs do you hold about groups that actually aren’t true?

An axiom is an established rule or principle or self-evident truth.  We all have them stored away in our brains. The key is that not all of them are true…and not all of them are the kind that will always be true.

Consider this line from Gary Hamel’s The Future of Management:

All of us are held hostage by our axiomatic beliefs.  We are jailbirds incarcerated within the fortress of dogma and precedent.  And yet, for the most part, we are oblivious to our own captivity (p. 126, The Future of Management).”

This got me thinking; wondering what are the axiomatic beliefs of small groups and small group ministry?  Here’s my attempt at a top ten.  Not all of them are true.  None of these are mine.  You look them over and then use the comment section to add to the list.

  1. The senior pastor needs to lead a group.
  2. Good groups grow and birth.
  3. The optimum environment for life-change is a small group.
  4. Elders or deacons are a good source for group leaders or coaches.
  5. The longer a group is together the more deeply connected the members become.
  6. Good groups practice the open chair.
  7. The “career path” of a leader is member, apprentice leader, leader, coach.
  8. Once a group gets to about 12 members, it’s pregnant and needs to start preparing to birth.
  9. The semester idea offers more “jump in” opportunities and offers the assurance that it’s only a 13 week commitment. (The semester model is often referred to as the Free Market model.
  10. Sermon-based curriculum makes your group stickier.

Here’s the thing about axiomatic beliefs.  If you want to break through to a better way of helping people connect, grow spiritually, and impact their world…you’re going to have to debug your thinking and begin proactively developing paths that lead from where you are to where you want to be.

Remember, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley).” If you don’t like the results, it may be that your design is based on a belief or two that isn’t actually true.

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Friday’s List | June 16

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

3 Truths About The Accelerating Pace Of Change And Leadership by Carey Nieuwhof. So good! Read this today!

How to Lead Your Team in the Same Direction by Dan Reiland. Always great stuff. Don’t miss this one if you lead a team.

SIX STAGES OF A DYING CHURCH by Thom Rainer. This is very good. Read it whether you think your church is dying or not!

Why Small Churches Get Stuck: 3 Changes Leaders Avoid Making by Chad Hunt on TonyMorganLive.com. Great insights here.

Make two lists by Seth Godin. Always surprised to find people who don’t know who Seth is, this is a great example of his thinking.

GEORGE WASHINGTON SHOWS US HOW LEADERS ARE READERS by Michael Hyatt. Must read. Very good.

10 Books Every Leader Should Read This Summer by Brian K. Dodd. Great list!

4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers by Dann Spader. Just 20 pages in and this is another great book. Looking forward to blogging about it.

The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace by S. Chris Edmonds. Part of my learning path this year.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Patrick Lencioni—The Ideal Team Player on the EntreLeadership Podcast. Pulled this one from the EntreLeadership archives. Great stuff!

INNOVATION = MANAGED CHAOS with Eric Schmidt on the Masters of Scale Podcast. This podcast is hosted by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg in Lead, Lead Again. Again, on the Masters of Scale Podcast with Reid Hoffman. I learned a lot!

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future Audible Audiobook – Unabridged by Kevin Kelly. Very interesting. One of the books I’m recommending on my 2017 Summer Reading List.

Quotes I’m wrestling with:

“Disciple-making for Jesus meant meeting the needs of people where they were spiritually and challenging them to the next level.” Dann Spader, 4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers.

App I’m using:

I’m committed this year to increasing my effectiveness. Nozbe is a leading productivity app. First heard about it from Michael Hyatt. It’s already making a big difference.

My own post I hope you’re reading:

My Top Small Group Ministry Learnings 2016 – 2017.  I like to think of myself as a learner. On the StrengthsFinder tool I am also futuristic with a twist of ideation. I’ve been called a mad scientist (and it’s one of my favorite tags). At one stop I almost convinced my boss that my new title should be The Destructor of the Status Quo.

Here’s my list of top learnings from the 2016-17 ministry year…

4 Things Small Groups Are Not (or shouldn’t be)

4 Things Small Groups Are Not (or shouldn’t be)

I’ve written a lot about what small group ministries should be (to thrive, to be effective, etc.). But I don’t think I’ve ever written about what small groups aren’t or shouldn’t be. See also, 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.

Take a few minutes and look over my list of 4 things small groups are not (or shouldn’t be). You may discover you’ve landed on a system, model or strategy that focuses attention on a limited outcome.

Here are 4 things small groups are not (or shouldn’t be):

Simply about connecting people. Far too often, small group ministry becomes the primary place to connect people and what happens there is limited to fellowship alone. Yes, connecting unconnected people is very important and makes sense strategically to be step one on the making better disciples pathway. But…the most effective small group ministries learn to connect people and make disciples in the 21st century.

See also, Top 10 Posts on Discipleship and Making Disciples in Groups.

Mostly about learning about the Bible. Some small group ministries gravitate to the role of being an environment where people go to learn about the Bible. Yes, learning about the Bible is important. But learning about the Bible ought never be the sole purpose or reason for small group ministry.

Without intentionality, small groups naturally gravitate to two of the five purposes (fellowship and discipleship, to use a Saddleback understanding) while ministry, evangelism and worship are left on the sideline.

With intentionality, small groups can be encouraged and assisted to “balance” the purposes and more effectively make better disciples.

See also, Balancing the 5 Purposes.

Where serious disciples congregate. Some small group ministries become the place where serious disciples gather. Setting the entry bar too high and limiting participation to those who are ready to “take up their cross and follow Jesus” as opposed to simply being open to “coming and seeing” skips the preliminary stage that Jesus modeled with his own disciples.

Effective small group ministries make entry attractive and appealing to unconnected people and once connected provide the natural steps for greater commitment.

See also, Diagnosing Your Discipleship Strategy and Moving from “Come and See” to “Come and Die”

A stage to be completed. A simplistic understanding of Willow Creek’s Reveal study is that small groups are most important during the Exploring and Growing in Christ stages and less important during the Close to Christ and Christ-Centered stages.

The conclusion for some has been that groups are only beneficial for those exploring Christ or growing in their relationship with Christ and that once a person matures beyond that stage, they no longer need community. However, even a cursory review of Reveal’s findings reveal that more mature believers often develop more organic relationships that accomplish the desirable effects.

See also, Ever Noticed Reveal’s Crowd-to-Core Wrinkle?

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

FAQ: What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

There are frequently asked questions…and then there are FREQUENTLY asked questions. This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked.

“What’s the best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people?”

Usually, the asker has done the math and realized that their percentage connected is dangerously low and that long before their current small group model, system or strategy will make any kind of significant dent, large numbers of unconnected people will have come and gone.

Usually, the asker has finally faced up to the fact that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church again and is ready to make some changes.

Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church againUnconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church again Click To Tweet

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Tony Robbins

Let’s get personal. Are you there yet?

Are you there yet? Have you finally arrived at the conclusion that your current small group model, system or strategy won’t actually make a significant dent in your percentage connected?

If that’s you, here’s how I answer the question, “What’s the best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people?”

What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

While there are a number of strategies that will connect unconnected people (and all of them involve prioritizing the launch of new groups), there is actually a way to rank them in terms of their potential. See also, Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups.

And there is one strategy that easily surpasses all others in terms of its ability to launch a wave of new groups and connect large numbers of unconnected people at a time.

While North Point’s GroupLink strategy and Saddleback’s Small Group Connection strategies both are excellent at launching new groups and connecting unconnected people, they fall well short of the potential of a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

Here’s my answer:

The best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people is a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

There are a few important points in that statement:

First, a well conceived church-wide campaign is very different than one grabbed off the shelf without much forethought or analysis. A well conceived campaign is thoughtfully chosen. It is selected for its topic and chosen with a type of person in mind. Careful consideration is given to who the church would like to connect or what specific next step they would like participants to take.

Second, a well planned campaign is designed to do more than connect unconnected people and launch new groups. In a well planned campaign, attention is paid to important details in advance. Details like, what will need to do to help the largest number of new groups continue to meet after the campaign is over and when does the campaign need to begin in order to maximize participation?

Third, a well executed campaign is an exercise in precision. Everything is scripted in advance and nothing is last-minute or ad lib. Careful attention is paid to timing and focus. Timelines are developed and religiously adhered to. Every detail is scrutinized in advance and evaluated afterward.

Does a church-wide campaign fit your needs this fall?

If you’ve realized that a church-wide campaign would finally help your church connect unconnected people and launch new groups, but you also know you’ll need help pulling it off, take a look at Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall? This article contains a number of free resources and also information on two resources designed to help your church develop a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

Further Reading:

Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall?

Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups

What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?

 

 

Making THIS Decision Now Will Connect WAY More People This Fall

Making THIS Decision Now Will Connect WAY More People This Fall

Did you know there is a decision you can make now that determines how many people you connect this fall?

Well, there is. And it actually is a simple decision. It’s sometimes not easy, but it is simple.

The reason so many of us grimace at the thought of it is that it’s a simple decision with some consequences that affect constituents (odd word, I know, hang with me).

Here’s the decision

The decision? Focus on launching new groups this fall.

Focus on launching only new groups this fall.

Why the big deal about new groups?

Easy. Focusing on new groups leads to a growing number of groups and people connected in groups. Focusing on adding people to existing groups leads to treading water (both in number of groups and number of people connected).

Focusing on new groups leads to a growing number of groups and people connected in groups.Focusing on new groups leads to a growing number of groups and people connected in groups. Click To Tweet

Frequently asked questions about prioritizing new groups:

“What if I have a semester system?” You can prioritize new groups. It just adds a wrinkle to your registration process. You may need to figure out a way to fill the new groups first or deemphasize the groups that are continuing for another semester.

“What if we usually have a small group fair that allows existing groups to add new members?” You can still prioritize new groups. Maybe you position the new groups nearer the front and position the existing groups further from the front? Maybe you run the fair two weeks and the first week is new groups only? The key is that prioritizing new groups leads to a growing number of groups and number of people connected.

“What if existing groups are counting on me to “restock” them with new members when old members drop out or move away?” You may need to retrain your existing group leaders to fish for themselves. See also, Skill Training: Top 10 Ways to Find New Members.

Bottom line: 

If you want to increase your percentage connected, you must focus on launching new groups.

If you want to increase your percentage connected, you must focus on launching new groups.If you want to increase your percentage connected, you must focus on launching new groups. Click To Tweet

Further Reading

Image by Alon

Four Keys to Recruiting Coaches for New Groups

Four Keys to Recruiting Coaches for New Groups

Planning to launch some new groups this fall? Don’t miss an important step in helping keep your new groups going! Increase their sustainability by assigning coaches to help new leaders start well and make it through the critical first 8 to 10 weeks.

Like a rocket launch, launching new groups well requires a lot of energy. And once launched, there are certain things you can do to keep them in orbit. Providing a coach who can effectively guide them through their first few weeks is very important.

Over the last 15 years I’ve developed a very effective way of identifying, recruiting and deploying what I call  launch-phase coaches. A launch-phase coach is essentially someone who is equipped to help a new leader successfully make it through their first 8 to 10 weeks.

Four Keys to Implementing the Launch-Phase Coaching Strategy

There are a four keys to implementing the launch-phase coach strategy:

  1. Identify the right people. Experienced and effective existing group leaders with the right characteristics make excellent coaches. And they can really help brand new leaders get off to a great start. See also, Skill Training: How to Identify a Potential Coach.
  2. Recruit them the right way. I use a very specific technique that allows me to essentially shape a test-drive. Different than some recruiting strategies, I’m actually test-driving the launch-phase coach (as opposed to them test-driving being a coach). See also, Skill Training: How to Recruit a Potential Coach.
  3. Deploy them in the right role. Once you’ve identified the right people and recruited them well, deploying them into the right role is an essential next step. There are certain things they must do that effectively help new leaders get off to a great start. A launch-phase coach can be easily equipped to do the right things. See also, The Awesome Potential of the Launch-Phase Coach Strategy.
  4. Evaluate their effectiveness and satisfaction at the end of the 8 to 10 week commitment. During the test-drive you will be looking for two essential qualities. Fruitfulness and fulfillment are essential for long-term players in the coach role. See also, How to Do an “Exit Interview” of a Launch-Phase Coach.

Building an effective coaching structure is one of the most important components of building a thriving small group ministry. While you will learn a many of the most important elements straight from my blog posts, you may want to take my most popular mini-course: How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

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An Analysis of the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven Strategy

An Analysis of the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven Strategy

Unlike the Free Market system or the Sermon-Based system (both of which are also very commonly semester systems), the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven strategy is actually part of a system and not the whole shebang.

For example, at Canyon Ridge we use several different strategies designed to connect people to groups over the course of the year. This set of strategies used over the course of the year are all designed to identify new leaders. A single church-wide campaign (typically in the fall) anchors our annual small group strategy. See also, Overview: Here Are Our Four Strategies for Launching New Groups.

A church-wide campaign is not a new idea. Churches have been using church-wide campaigns for many years, primarily as a way to rally the whole church around a vision (often connected with a capital campaign and a building project).

A church-wide campaign, or a spiritual growth emphasis (as Rick Warren refers to them) can be very powerful and do much more than connect adults to groups. Saddleback calls them a spiritual growth emphasis because a well-conceived, well-planned and well-executed church-wide campaign will have a powerful impact on the spiritual vitality of an entire church (from core to crowd and even into the community).

Full Disclosure: I believe a well-conceived, well-planned, and well-executed is the very best way to identify the largest number of leaders, launch the largest number of new groups, and connect the largest number of unconnected people.

Common Distinctives:

Church-wide campaigns have a number of distinctive elements:

  • They are alignments between a sermon series and a small group study. That is, what is studied in small groups enhances and reinforces the weekend sermon series.
  • Many campaigns include other elements, such as a daily devotional (think 40 Days of Purpose and The Purpose Driven Life), memory verses, serving opportunities, etc.
  • While there are many off-the-shelf church-wide campaigns, it is more and more common for churches to develop their own (produced in-house or farmed out to a production company). See also, The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns – 2016.
  • The adult small group study is commonly DVD-driven.
  • Many campaigns are developed to include the whole congregation (with materials for children and students, as well).
  • Most campaigns include an effort to challenge unconnected adults to join groups that are using the campaign study (where they can get everything possible out of the message series).
  • Well-executed campaigns are designed to launch new small groups (and identify new leaders).

Advantages of the church-wide campaign-driven strategy:

Incorporating an annual church-wide campaign into your overall church strategy has a number of advantages:

  • It can focus your church on one conversation (children, students and adults can focus on a single topic).
  • Well-executed campaigns launch waves of new groups and identify new leaders. In my opinion, it is the very best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people and launch the largest number of new groups.
  • Connecting large numbers of unconnected adults into groups can provide an important first step into community.
  • Well-conceived and well-executed campaigns leverage the influence of the most influential person in the church (the senior pastor) to encourage whole congregations to participate (i.e, attend all 6 weekend services, be part of a group that’s using the study that goes along with the message series, do the daily devotional, etc.).
  • Well-executed campaigns very effectively sustain a large percentage of the new groups launched, helping many unconnected people take first steps into community.

Disadvantages of the church-wide campaign-driven strategy:

  • The effectiveness of a church-wide campaign rests largely on the senior pastor’s ability and willingness to play the role of champion. The most effective campaigns leverage the influence of the most influential person in the church to encourage everyone to fully participate. There is no truly effective substitute. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion.
  • Choosing the right campaign can be a challenge. Since the topic determines who will say “yes” to leading a group and who will say “yes” to joining a group, choosing a topic that appeals broadly is an essential step. See also, Your Church-Wide Campaign Topic Determines Two Huge Outcomes.
  • Church-wide campaigns require full participation and buy-in from senior leadership (senior pastor, staff, elders, etc.). Without full participation and buy-in results in a less successful campaign.
  • Effective church-wide campaigns dominate the calendar for 2 to 3 months of the year. Recruiting new leaders and then launching new groups is a 6 to 8 weekend project. Series promotion and execution is typically an overlapping 6 to 8 weekends. See also, Behind the Scenes: Developing a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign.
  • Truly effective campaigns are never one of several things being promoted. They are always the only thing being promoted. This aspect necessitates rethinking the way other ministries and programs are launched or promoted.

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

Quotebook: Speaking the Last 10 Percent

“Sometimes love must be bold. Bold enough to say things to one another that we usually lack the courage to say. Bill Hybels calls it ‘saying the last 10 percent.’ We will usually say 90 percent of the encouraging words, or 90 percent of the hard-to-hear words of truth, but we usually hold back from the last 10 percent. But that last 10 percent is the part that often makes the most difference.” John Burke, Soul Revolution: How Imperfect People Become All God Intended

Love must be bold enough to say things that we usually lack the courage to say. Bill Hybels calls it ‘saying the last 10 percent.’Love must be bold enough to say things that we usually lack the courage to say. Bill Hybels calls… Click To Tweet

You can read more from my Quotebook right here.

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Insight: The Upside of a Scorecard over a Job Description

I’m frequently asked for a sample job description for small group pastors. Generally it is a senior pastor or executive pastor asking for a copy (to use as they enter the hunt to hire a small group pastor).

I tell them, “We don’t use a job description at Canyon Ridge, but I can share my scorecard with you.” And that often sets off a back and forth email chain as I try to explain the scorecard concept (and how it is related to our monthly one-to-one check-ins).

Here’s our method of scorecards and one-to-one monthly check-ins:

A little over 5 years ago we moved from job descriptions to scorecards. We got the idea from Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. It would be a tremendous over-simplification to say it is a very helpful book on hiring the right people.

We got a ton from Who, but one of the most important insights had to do with our current understanding of the upside of a scorecard over a job description.

Three main differences between a scorecard and a typical job description:

First, while a job description typically describes duties and expectations, “Scorecards describe the mission for the position, outcomes that must be accomplished, and competencies that fit both the culture of the company and the role.”

Second, while a job description tends to be static and unchanging, a scorecard is dynamic and changes as outcomes are accomplished.

Finally, while a job description tends to be written by the organization, a scorecard can become a very personal outline of future intentions and actions. A new team member may be handed their first scorecard, but it almost always becomes something written by the employee as a way of saying, “here are my plans for the next 30, 90 or 180 days.”

You can see a copy of my most current scorecard right here (written in December, I’ll be editing it, removing a few items as these have been accomplished and adding a few more items I’ll be working on).

Monthly One-to-One Check-Ins:

The second component of our system is a monthly one-to-one check-in meeting/conversation. The essence of the check-in is a conversation guided by a morphing set of questions. I refer to the questions as “morphing” because they are not exactly the same every month. There are four main categories for the questions (two are directly related to the scorecard and two are personal).

Each of the four categories of questions include several questions, but the main questions directly related to the scorecard are (1) What were your goals since your last Rating* Month? and (2) What projects/tasks will you work on until your next rating* month?

You should be able to see the connection between the scorecard (in most cases developed by the employee) and the monthly one-to-one check-in. The role of the supervisor is able to shift to staff development. The desired employee becomes much more invested in identifying the hills to be taken and the work to be done.

*Rating month refers to our current method of merit pay increases and could be the subject of a future post.

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

Further Reading:

4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Small Group System Is Broken

tell taleYou know how certain things in life are tell-tale signs something is wrong? For example, when your car’s bouncing down the road and the tires are wearing unevenly…it’s a tell-tale sign that your car’s wheels need to be aligned . Or when your thermostat is set on 72 but it’s 82 in the house and the air conditioner is blowing hot air. Or how about when your debit card is declined the morning after your paycheck is deposited?

Tell-tale signs.

Did you know there are tell-tale signs that your small group system is broken?

4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Small Group System is Broken:

Your total number of groups is remaining the same year after year.

Your total number of groups is remaining the same year after year. If your total number of groups isn’t growing, it’s a tell-tale sign something is broken. Even if your church’s attendance is flatlined, a growing total number of groups is an indication of a healthy small group system.

A flatlined total number of groups may indicate a number of issues:

  • You are simply adding new members to existing groups (instead of focusing on launching new groups).
  • As existing group leaders move away or “take a break” you’re finding a replacement (instead of letting the group die).
  • You haven’t taught your group leaders to “fish for new members” themselves (and they’re relying on you to send them replacements.

See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups and Great Question: How Do I Train Leaders to Add New Members?

Your percentage connected remains the same year after year.

Your percentage connected remains the same year after year. If your percentage connected is not increasing year after year, it is a tell-tale sign something is broken (or inadequately designed). Even if your church’s attendance is increasing, a healthy small group system (or the right small group system) will allow your percentage connected to increase year after year.

A flatlined (or decreasing) percentage connected my indicate:

  • Your menu of belong and become options is too broad and needs to be pared down (to narrow the focus to only the best option(s).
  • Your system is inadequate to the challenge and simply isn’t designed to expand quickly enough.

See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?

You’re not sustaining the new groups you are launching.

You’re not sustaining the new groups you are launching. When you are launching new groups but you’re not sustaining a high enough percentage of them, it’s a tell-tale sign something is broken.

A low percentage of new groups sustained may indicate:

  • You’re not providing appropriate support for new group leaders (i.e., you don’t have an effective coaching structure in place).
  • The method you’re using to launch new groups is poorly designed (i.e., a flaw in the launching strategy may actually predict poor affinity or unreasonable expectations).

See also, 5 Steps to Sustaining the New Groups You Launch

Groups members show few signs of life-change.

Groups members show few signs of life-change. It is a deeply held assumption that the optimal environment for life-change is a small group. If life-change is not happening in a meaningful way (and stories of life-change are hard to find), it is a tell-tale sign something is broken.

A lack of life-change evidence may indicate:

  • A poorly designed method of gathering stories.
  • A lack of intentionality in doing TO and FOR your leaders what you want them to do TO and FOR their members.
  • A laissez-faire attitude or lack of intentionality in guiding the selection of group curriculum.

See also, Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change and 5 Signs You May Have a Bad Disciple-Making Strategy.

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