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Category: Small Group Strategy (page 1 of 77)

Test-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water

toes in the waterTest-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water

Buying without trying is down.

Contracts and long commitments are out.

File these under #ThingsYouMustKeepInMind

Test-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water are in.

Question: How does this affect you and me?

I think it ought to affect us in two ways:

First, it ought to reshape our thinking about the importance of offering test-drives, taste-tests and toes-in-the-water. Think about it. Virtually everything is now available to be experienced now and purchased later.

You can listen to the song before you buy on iTunes. You can read a portion of the book on Amazon. You can arrange a test-drive of just about any car you’d like to drive. You can ask for a taste at the ice cream store or the brewery. Many clothing and shoe manufacturers now offer free shipping and free returns to entice you to try on their product.

If we want to connect unconnected people we should be offering test-drives, taste-tests and toes-in-the-water. Most of what we are offering feels like something you buy before you try (which is a very antiquated sales strategy). How long ago did that pass into history in just about every other arena?

Second, it ought to reshape our thinking about the length of commitment we’re asking for. Think about it. Renting is on the rise. Services like Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix and Hulu make it increasingly common to pay for access rather than purchase.

When we plan small group connecting events we should keep in mind that long commitments are out. If we want to help unconnected people take a step to join a group we should be offering baby steps.

Note: Baby steps must be designed with babies in mind. What is a baby step to a baby is a very important thing to understand. What we think is a baby step is often seen as a giant step by the babies themselves. And their perspective is the only perspective that matters.

Further Reading:

Image by Christine Rondeau

How Foggy Is What’s Next for Your Small Group Ministry?

foggyHow Foggy Is What’s Next for Your Small Group Ministry?

Do you know where you’re going? Can you see it clearly? Or is the road ahead kind of foggy?

I’m often asked, “How do you determine what’s next for your small group ministry?”

Here’s how I think about what’s next:

First, I begin with a honest evaluation of how it is going right now.

I am convinced that Andy Stanley is right when he says, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” These are the facts and they are undisputed.

Why start there? Easy. Before I plan what’s next I need to think about how it is actually going right now (i.e., is our current strategy or plan working?). It’s important to look at what you are doing through the lens of “is what we are doing actually working?”

If you care about where you are going you must begin with an honest appraisal of how well or poorly your strategy is working.

Second, I look again and again at the preferred future we have identified.

We talk about our preferred future many ways, but it always includes the following:

  • We want to have more adults in groups than we have attend a worship service on the weekend.
  • We must focus on making disciples as we connect unconnected people.
  • We want to make as easy as possible for people to step into leadership and nearly automatic that they step onto a leader development conveyor belt.

There are certainly other aspects to our preferred future, but these are preeminent. When these are truly preeminent, we are forced to view our current results through the lens of “is what we are doing actually working?”

Third, I determine which aspects of our preferred future could be attained next.

This is important and it is often overlooked. While connecting more adults in groups is certainly an aspect of our preferred future, it is not the only one.

  • We should be determining what we can do in the short term to make more and better disciples.
  • We should be determining what we can do in the short term to make it easier to step into leadership and more automatic that new leaders step onto a leader development conveyor belt.

I refer to this as keeping one eye on the preferred future and the other eye on the next milestone. Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged.

How are you determining what’s next for your small group ministry?

Can you see it? Are you seeing your preferred future clearly enough? Are you honestly evaluating how it’s going right now? Are you determining aspects that are attainable in the short term?

Further Reading:

Image by Emma Story

4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

essentials of execution4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

And…we’re off. We’re now two weekends into our fall launch.

The way our strategy is designed we will focus exclusively on casting vision for the series (Finding Your Way Back to God) and recruiting hosts for the first three weekends. By hosts, we mean people who respond to the specially designed ask: “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with… (i.e., the study that goes along with the series).” See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Three Weekends in a Row and Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

So far, our results are underwhelming. We saw improvement in the second weekend as we tightened up the ask (both our service host and teaching pastor pulled closer to the script) and more effectively cast vision for the series (the ‘why’). But there remains room for further improvement.

And we will continue to tweak and massage the launch until we work it into the right language, the right feel.

Which brings me to a short, but critical, explanation of the ingredients that go into a well executed small group launch.

4 Essentials of Execution:

  1. Plan. The best planning clarifies the win, makes clear what you are trying to do and removes the guesswork. Paint the bullseye before you shoot the arrow. For me, planning includes writing the script for the specific lines I want our communicators to us.
  2. Rehearse. Just prior to pulling the trigger it is a good idea to remind all players about their lines. Ideally, this is not improv. You think about this nearly year-round. Many of the other players (i.e., your senior pastor, your communication director, etc.) only think about a small group launch or church-wide campaign when it is rolling.
  3. Evaluate. Every move should be evaluated immediately (i.e., if you have two services you should be evaluating immediately after the first service). “How close was that to the script?” “Was that really what we planned?” “What were the results from that ‘ask’?” Remember, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” If you don’t like the results from the first service…don’t assume the results were a fluke. They were generated by the execution of your design (or a deviation from the design).
  4. Adjust. If the results you achieve are not what you hoped for or expect, you must adjust what you are doing. As Albert Einstein shrewdly noted, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again and expect different results.” If you want different results, you must adjust the execution of your strategy.

We have our third move next weekend. I’ll keep you posted as we adjust (in hopes of a greater response, so we can connect a larger number of unconnected people).

Further Reading:

Image by Jeff Archer

What If Narrowing Your Focus Is THE Missing Piece?

narrow white noiseI’ve suggested MANY times that the most important ministry book you could read is Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. In fact, I’ve suggested it so many times that I’m actually disappointed in you if you haven’t read it multiple times. It is the best explanation for the way to do effective ministry. I really do believe that.

Which leads me to today’s post.

Have you ever wondered if there actually was a single most important missing piece to your strategy?

Think about this Andy Stanley line:

“Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.”

Is that phrase locked squarely in your mind?

Now think about this, what if you have everything right in your design except one thing? Could that one thing cause your results to still miss the mark? To keep you from achieving the win that you’ve clarified?

What do you think? Could getting everything right except one thing cause you to miss the mark?

Spoiler Alert: I believe your design only has to miss one thing in order to significantly alter your results.

That’s right. If your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing…only one element of the design needs to be off.

8 Key Design Elements to a Successful Church-Wide Campaign:

For example, if I were to list the major design elements to a successful church-wide campaign, the list would include the following:

  1. The topic (or specific study chosen).
  2. The timing of the weekend message series.
  3. Isolating a single message for each weekend in the weeks leading up to the campaign.
  4. The senior pastor’s involvement as champion in promoting the campaign.
  5. The message series that leads up to the campaign.
  6. A clear distinction between the host ask and the group member ask.
  7. Connecting every new group leader with a coach.
  8. Choosing the follow up study in advance and promoting it skillfully to new group leaders and members.

What if you only missed one design element?

I believe you only have to miss one design element to end up with significantly reduced results.

Choose the wrong topic, you’re toast because the topic determines who will say yes to hosting and who say yes to joining a groups.

Chose the wrong timing for the series and clearly your results will be different.

Choose the wrong person to champion the campaign (anyone other than the senior pastor) and your results wlll be significantly reduced.

Choose the wrong message series leading up to the campaign and your host and member asks will seem forced.

Fail to differentiate between the host ask and the member ask and you will severely compromise the number of hosts you recruit.

Fail to connect every new leader with a coach or fail to choose the right follow up series and you will sustain far fewer new groups.

Note: For most of my readers, especially those who have completed How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign, this is all old news.

Special Note: Fail to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective and the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

The Most Overlooked Design Element?

I believe the most overlooked design element is the failure to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective. When too many things, too many options, are being promoted at the same time, the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

When you attempt to promote more than one thing at a time, your people hear noise. They do not hear options. They hear noise.

If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you must narrow the focus to the single message you want them to hear. When you don’t do that, it is a design problem Your design problem.

P.S. If you haven’t read Seven Practices of Effective Ministry you can order it right here (and join the smart set).

Further Reading:

Image by Andrew Kimmel

How Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

fall leavesHow Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

Fall. I don’t know about you, but here in Las Vegas I’m looking forward to fall. Temperatures begin to cool off (we’ll soon have daytime temps under 100!) and the plans we’ve made for our fall ministry season will be in full swing!

If your church is like most churches, the fall ministry season is an important part of your annual strategy. As school begins and summer vacations come to an end there is often an attendance bump. In some communities the end of summer and the beginning of fall is accompanied by the largest number of new attendees as new residents begin to look for a church.

If your church is like my church, your fall ministry season hasn’t kicked off yet, but it’s just about to begin. Here at Canyon Ridge we’re one week in to a six week onramp to our fall groups launch.

We’re definitely close enough to the fall to see how it’s shaping up and make a few last minute tweaks to our strategy.

How Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

Are you ready? Do your plans look like they’re going to produce?

Or do you think you might need a slight adjustment?

If you think you might need a little help or a few ideas that might help your fall ministry season, here are a few articles:

Can I help you?

I regularly coach churches on preparing for church-wide campaigns and growth initiatives. While I am sometimes available for an onsite consultation, I can also schedule a series of video conference calls to guide your team through the process.  Email Me for more information.

Image by Eren

7 Traits of Healthy Small Group Ministries

traits droop7 Traits of Healthy Small Group Ministries

Sometimes you can just look at something and tell that it’s healthy. Other times you’ve got to do some diagnostic poking around.

How can you tell if your small group ministry is healthy? There are a number of observable traits that indicate health.

7 Traits of Healthy Small Group Ministries

Healthy small groups ministries…

  1. Have a growing total number of groups. There is an ebb and flow to all organisms and organizations. There are always things beginning and ending. It is the nature of nature. But healthy things grow and healthy small group ministries have a growing total number of groups. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups.
  2. Have a growing total number of members. Satisfied customers tell stories about how a product or service has changed their lives. The product of a healthy small group is changed lives. Changed lives are naturally appealing and attractive. Doesn’t it stand to reason that a healthy small group ministry will have a growing number of members?
  3. Have an increasing percentage connected. Your percentage connected (number of adults in groups divided by the average number of adults in worship) is an important indicator to watch. If you believe that the optimal environment for life-change is a circle, your percentage connected is ultimately what determines whether you’re gaining ground or losing ground. For example, your average adult attendance in worship climbs by 10%, you might still be losing ground in terms of percentage connected even if you add 10 new groups and 100 more people in groups. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?
  4. Have a decreasing average age of groups. If you are starting new groups (and sustaining the new groups you launch) on a regular basis, the average age of your groups (when did your group begin meeting?) should be decreasing. If the average age of your groups is increasing or remaining the same, it is an indication that you are not succeeding at launching enough new groups (and sometimes allowing zombie groups to die). See also, Can You Tell If Your Group Might be a Zombie?
  5. Have more leaders in development than they have groups. Formal or informal, identified on an org chart or just known within every group, healthy small group ministries have more leaders in development than they currently have groups. Every healthy small group will have a kind of shared leadership. Whether formalized with an apprenticing strategy or purely an organic reality (every group with 7 or more members subgroups for discussion and prayer), there are always potential and additional leaders in the development pipeline. See also, The Best Training for Small Group Leaders.
  6. Have appropriate spans of care. Everyone needs to be cared for by someone and no one can take care of more than (about) 10. Healthy small group ministries have structures in place that provide care for leaders (and leaders of leaders). The structures in place in healthy small group ministries provide appropriate spans of care, not requiring anyone (the small group pastor) to care for number beyond their capacity. See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.
  7. Help members belong and become. Healthy small groups and small group ministries help members connect and grow. Unhealthy is either/or. Healthy is both. An important trait of healthy small group ministries is that it is easy to belong and an ordinary experience to become more and more like Jesus. See also, 5 Keys to Building Small Group Ministries at the Corner of “Belonging and Becoming”

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

Image by ecks ecks

Who Designs Your Next Steps? Starry-Eyed Dreamers or Steely-Eyed Pragmatists?

next stepsWho Designs Your Next Steps? Starry-Eyed Dreamers or Steely-Eyed Pragmatists?

Who designs your next steps? Starry-eyed dreamers or steely-eyed pragmatists?

It makes a difference, you know.

Starry-eyed dreamers often put steps in place that Carl Lewis* wouldn’t attempt. Steely-eyed pragmatists can sometimes design steps that are dismissed by dreamers as lacking challenge.

While next steps should be easy, obvious, and strategic…reasonable and doable are clearly in the eye of the beholder. [Click to Tweet]

If you want to design and offer next steps for everyone and first steps for their friends…you must keep the needs, interests, and maturity of the step taker in mind. The real test is not what seems reasonable or doable to the designer.

Not sure whether your next steps are designed correctly? Results are the true test. “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley).” Not getting the results you hoped for? The design of your next steps determines everything.

Further Reading:

*Lewis’ world record long jump at 8.79 meters (28.83 feet) has stood since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.


This vs That: 5 Critical Choices That Have Massive Impact

this vs that two roads

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Robert Frost

This vs That: 5 Critical Choices That Have Massive Impact

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”

Robert Frost’s epic line is never more important than when making 5 critical choices that have massive impact…in small group ministry.

Have you ever thought about the way some of the tiniest, seemingly insignificant choices can make the biggest differences in outcomes?

Here are a 5 critical choices that have massive impact:

Hand selected, prequalified leader candidates (chosen from the usual suspects) vs qualified on-the-spot and chosen by peers.

Many choices are counterintuitive. Doesn’t it just make sense that you would want to know more about your leader candidates before allowing them to lead? Wouldn’t prequalifying your leaders lead to fewer really bad mistakes?

It actually turns out that the route to exponential growth (in terms of the number of groups) takes you directly through the neighborhood of lowering the leader bar and relying on group members (the wisdom of crowds)  to make this important selection.


A couple important phenomena make this true.

First, as your church grows it becomes more and more likely that the best potential leaders are actually people who you don’t know and who are not yet in a group. A bold statement? Perhaps, but I’ve confirmed this everywhere in churches that have outgrown the staff’s capacity to know who is attending. A very large leader pool exists outside the usual suspects. Figuring out who they are is near impossible with old school methodologies (like relying on the next wave of new leaders coming from inside existing groups).

Second, it turns out we are amazingly prewired to make intelligent choices about who the best leader candidate is (relative to the other adults in a circle) after even a few minutes conversation. Malcolm Gladwell described this phenomena in his best-selling book  Blink . See also, 7 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Strategy.

Small group pastor as small group champion vs senior pastor as small group champion.

Again, this choice is absolutely counterintuitive. After all, it does make sense that you’ve hired the small group pastor to build the small group ministry. Why shouldn’t you rely on the small group pastor to cast vision for groups and encourage everyone to join one?

Unfortunately, the counterintuitive choice of placing the mantle of small group champion squarely on the shoulders of your senior pastor is what leads to a church OF groups and a thriving small group ministry. See also, 5 Things Senior Pastors Need to Know about Small Group Ministry.

Signing up for a semester vs signing up for a 6 week test-drive.

Unconnected people are almost always infrequent attenders. They are also creatures of habit who have their pattern down when they do attend. They know where they prefer to park their car. Where to drop off their children. They know which door to come in. And where to sit.

Their experience is predictable and predictability is preferable to surprise or disappointment.

The best way to offer a next step to unconnected adults is to make the next step easy, obvious, and strategic. Easy steps are imaginable. Easy steps don’t seem like a major ordeal. Easy steps are low commitment. Ordinary people can take easy steps.

When the first step to getting connected requires a 10 to 13 week commitment, fewer unconnected people will take them. 6 week test-drives are preferable because they seem less invasive. Who can’t do something new for 6 weeks? See also, How Would You Rate the First Steps out of Your Auditorium?

Choosing small group studies based on what already connected people are interested in vs choosing studies unconnected people are interested in.

Shouldn’t you base the selection of your next small group study on what your satisfied customers tell you they want?

Think about it. You want to keep your satisfied customers happy. Doesn’t it stand to reason that it’s easier to keep a satisfied customer than get a new customer?

One key to this choice has to do with the percentage of your congregation (and crowd) who are unconnected. If you’ve already connected a very large percentage of your congregation it may be tempting to allow them to choose the next church-wide study. But the reality for most churches is that their true percentage connected (based on the number connected divided by their Easter adult attendance) is disturbingly low.

That said, if you want to connected the unconnected congregation (and crowd) you need to pay attention to what they are interested in and to what their perceived needs are. See also, 5 Things Every New Small Group Pastor Needs to Know on Day 1.

Releasing new groups to decide on their next study vs preselecting the next study new groups will use.

Again, a counterintuitive choice. New groups ought to be allowed to choose what study to do next. Right? Wrong.

It turns out, new groups don’t yet have the connective tissue to survive the trauma of a debate or disagreement about what study to do next. They will develop that strength of connection. But at the end of their first 6 weeks they don’t yet have it.

When you preselect a fitting next study for your newest groups you give them the best chance to survive into their third curriculum (which is often a predictor of long-term connection).

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

Image by Ann Fisher

Are You Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry?

future red skies at dawnAre You Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry?

As I wrote Monday’s post, I tried very hard to imagine the days ahead. I read the reports Barna is producing (you can sign up for their updates right here).  I’m always reading the latest book by David Kinnaman, Gabe Lyons, or James Emery White (see below for some recommendations).

I want to be a learner; a student. And I want to be a wise steward of what God has given me.

I’ve also had the strong sense (for many years) that while Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27) can be applied to everyone, they have sobering applications for leaders. And for leaders of leaders? Oh my.

Since we are stewarding people, I believe we must understand the times and we must be looking ahead.

I’m more than a little concerned by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:

“When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

And I don’t want to keep it to myself because at some level I think I’m responsible to pass on what I’m learning. As Andy Stanley has said, “As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup. Our responsibility is to empty ours.”

Here are four keys to preparing for the future of small group ministry:

Four Keys to Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry

  1. Actively train your coaches and leaders to skillfully communicate biblical truth in a language the culture can understand. This is a non-negotiable. As the culture races to biblical illiteracy we must actively train leaders to speak the lingua franca. Just like the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill, we need to be able to communicate in a way that makes sense in a post-Christian culture.
  2. Make being others centered and loving your neighbor as yourself the centerpiece of your ministry. If we want our ministries to be anything other than a warm and cozy fortress for the already convinced, we must be ever on the lookout for natural opportunities to prioritize the needs and interests of the community.
  3. Focus your effort on doing TO and FOR your leaders what you want them to do TO and FOR their members. This should always be front-of-mind. Making disciples is an organic process that is contagious and communicable. If we are not doing the right things TO and FOR our leaders, we can hardly expect leaders to do the right things TO and FOR their members.
  4. Begin decentralizing the majority of your leader development and encouragement. If you haven’t already begun, now is the time to make the change from centralized to decentralized leadership development and encouragement. Develop and encourage your coaches in huddles where they live or work. Equip your coaches to do the same thing with the leaders they shepherd.

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

Further Reading:

Image by Michael Levine-Clark

The Future of Small Group Ministry (and how to prepare for it)

future weather vaneThe Future of Small Group Ministry (and how to prepare for it)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve long been intrigued by a somewhat obscure Old Testament reference to the men of Issachar. Tucked away into a long list of those who joined David when he was banished by King Saul, we’re told about the men of Issachar “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32 NIV).”

Do you understand the times? Do you know what we should be doing? Can you see where things are going? Have you taken the time yet to stop and think about what where things are going means for small group ministry?

When you read the reports coming out of the Barna organization, when you read what Gabe Lyons, David Kinnaman and James Emery White are writing, for that matter when you simply listen to the news and read the headlines, it’s not hard to feel a change in the wind. The truth is, “The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed (William Gibson).”

As I think about what is coming, here’s what I think is the future of small group ministry…and how to prepare for it.

The future of small group ministry (and how to prepare for it):

“Meet me at Starbucks” will be a much more common invite than “meet me at my church.”

As even the most attractional churches become less appealing to post-Christian America, it will become much easier to invite someone to “meet me at Starbucks (or the pub.” As a first step for unchurched (or dechurched) friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members, “Come to my church” will just seem so 20th century. On the flip side, the next Christians will see their home for what it really is: the 21st century equivalent of an excellent host in the 1st century.

“Tonight we’re studying John chapter 15” will require a lot of explanation.

You do realize that the further we go into the 21st century, the less biblically literate the culture becomes. Every study demonstrates this conclusively. This means you need to anticipate that even references that were assumed all your life (who Joseph was or that the Gospel of John was written by one of Jesus’ closest friends and followers) are now obscure and remote, Culturally savvy group leaders will approach teaching opportunities like Paul did in Acts 17 and assume unfamiliarity while deftly connecting spiritual truth with what is familiar.

Connecting strategies will be tilted toward strong ties.

Face it. The most connected people in your congregation are the least connected people in their neighborhoods and offices. The least connected people in your congregation and crowd are almost always the most connected people in the community. When the least connected people in your congregation and crowd participate in a social event (office party, block party, Little League game, softball league, etc.), they are strengthening ties with people who have never attended your church. Why not leverage these already established strong ties?

If all of your connecting strategies depend on unconnected attenders signing up to attend an event that happens on-campus you are already missing out on the most natural way to connect people. Wise leaders will gravitate toward and develop new strategies that leverage pre-existing strong ties.

Vision and training will focus on cultivating friendships in the community.

As the shift to a Post-Christian America accelerates, it becomes ever more important to envision and equip members to invest in their neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances and family, cultivating genuine friendships in the community. What about your fall festival and your Easter egg hunt? Wise observers of culture will innovate and experiment with neighborhood and even cul de sac expressions that make introductions and developing friendships more likely.

The value added element will be relationship and the byproduct will be discipleship.

Belonging absolutely precedes believing or becoming. If this isn’t obvious, refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There was certainly a time in the mid 20th century when it was still common to grow old in the neighborhood you were born in, to know your neighbors and even socialize with your co-workers. As mobility increases and neighborhoods and cities become more and more transient, loneliness and a vague sense of disconnection grows. Wise leadership will make it ordinary to prioritize and normalize loving your neighbor as yourself. See also, 5 Things I Wish You Knew as You Build Your Small Group Ministry.

Leader development and encouragement will be almost entirely decentralized.

Churches everywhere are beginning to discover that the pace of life is making centralized gatherings more difficult to demand and less productive to implement.  Far easier to instill and more productive are decentralized gatherings at the local coffee shop or for that matter, in the living room or kitchen.  See also, 7 Decisions that Predetermine Small Group Ministry Impact.

Storytelling will emerge as a best practice in thriving small group ministries.

We live in the era of storytelling. Yes, people have always been captivated by stories, but today more than ever before to tell a compelling story is to catch and hold the attention of a culture that suffers from an attention deficit disorder. We do have the greatest story. If we want to convince the unconnected crowd and community of the priceless value of authentic community, we must become better storytellers.

Organic connecting practices will be the rule rather than the exception.

You may have become a master at planning and executing connecting strategies (small group connections, GroupLink, small group fairs, etc.), but the further we step into 21st century post-Christian America, the more important organic connecting practices will become. As even the most attractional churches become less attractive destinations, it will become more and more important that we naturally, organically, build relationships with neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members. Effective small group ministries in the future will feel much more like interconnected hubs of relationship woven into the fabric of the neighborhoods, workplaces, and third places of our cities.

Disciplemaking will be the priority and practice of ordinary Jesus followers.

As the 21st century post-Christian America feels more like the pre-Christian 1st century, the lives of authentic Jesus followers will become more and more attractive to a culture several generations removed from experiencing the life-on-life impact of people who truly love their neighbors as themselves. That kind of love is the basis for true disciplemaking as come and see leads to taste and see.

Click here for 4 Keys to Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry.

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

Further Reading:

Image by Frank Alcazar

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