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Category: Small Group Strategy (page 1 of 80)

How to Answer the Questions of Unconnected People

question-raised-handFirst News flash: Joining a small group is a foreign concept to most unconnected people. With the exception of currently unconnected people who have been in a group before, everyone with no experience hears “small group” and either wonders what you’re talking about and why it is so important or has a wide range of common misconceptions.

Second News Flash: Unconnected people are unsure about joining a small group. They also have many questions about coming to a small group connection!

Three Important Things You Can Do

There are three important things you can do to help unconnected people understand small groups and small group connections:

  1. Testimonies (both live and video) from people who got connected to a small group. Whether it’s a new laundry detergent, a new treatment for hair loss, or a dating service like eHarmony, the testimonials of satisfied customers are often the most powerful persuasion to try something new. See also, How to Develop Video or Live Testimony that Recruits Hosts or Members.
  2. Website and print content. Along with live or video testimonials from satisfied customers, well-written web or print content can help unconnected people brave uncharted waters.
  3. Easy access FAQs (frequently asked questions). Web or print FAQs can provide “risk-free” answers to common questions. Click here to download an example FAQ for a small group connection.

Further Reading:

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Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups

launchingWhether I’m buying a TV or choosing between phone plans, I like to see a side by side comparison. Don’t you? Or how about a list that ranks products according to their performance?

The top 8 ways to launch new groups (according to their performance):

Please keep a few things in mind as you look over the list today.

  • First, this list is based on my opinion. You may have a different opinion. I just ask that you read through my rationale to fully understand how I ranked the strategies this way.
  • Second, I’ve based my ranking on average results (not exceptions to the average). You may know of a church that has exceptional results.
  • Third, I’ve left a few strategies out that are really more add-on in nature.  Since they’re not stand-alone strategies, I’ve listed them below.
  • Fourth, this is about launching new groups. Not adding to existing groups.

Here’s the list ranked from lowest potential to highest potential to launch new groups:

8. Apprenticing: Apprenticing is an important leadership development strategy. Every leader should be apprenticing. Although “results may vary” apprenticing only rarely results in a new group every 12 to 18 months. Far more commonly, apprenticing strategies produce co-leaders of existing groups. See also, True or False: Leaders with Apprentices Leads to More New Groups?

7. Free Market/Semester-System: Free-market run in the classic sense involves the production of a catalog of available groups every semester and either 2 or 3 opportunities to select a group to join for the upcoming semester. Operators of free market systems rarely report an overabundance of new leaders or new groups. Rather, new leaders more commonly replace retiring leaders (or those “taking a break”). See also, An Analysis of the Free Market Small Group Strategy.

6. Sermon-Based/Semester-System: Sermon-based systems have a slight advantage over free-market in that it is generally part of the culture of the church (a la North Coast) and “everyone is doing it.” Still, new leaders more commonly replace retiring leaders (or those “taking a break”). See also, An Analysis of the Sermon-Based Small Group Strategy.

5. Book Club (that leads to off-campus): Choosing the right book offers a larger sign-up. This strategy often leads to large numbers of unconnected people participating. As it is not promoted as a way to join a group, it also leads to connecting unconnected people into table groups that often decide to stay together and continue meeting. See also, Two Big Opportunities That Will Connect More People This Spring.

4. Short-Term On-Campus (that leads to off-campus): This strategy has more potential than the book club because it most commonly offers a slate of options to choose from (i.e. Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, The New Rules for Sex and Dating, Authentic Manhood, etc.). Marketed well and run correctly, this strategy consistently leads to new groups that continue meeting off-campus. See also, North Point Increases GroupLife Participation by Adding an Easier Next Step.

3. GroupLink: North Point’s popular strategy can lead to new groups with new leaders, but is primarily a strategy that enables pre-approved leaders to fill their groups with unconnected people. When there are not enough pre-approved leaders a secondary practice kicks in and groups are formed with the expectation that a leader will be identified (as part of the process) from amongst the group. See also, North Point’s Small Group System.

2. Small Group Connection: Saddleback’s small group connection strategy builds leader identification into the event itself. Every group formed is a new group with a new leader. See also, How to Launch New Groups Using a Small Group Connection – 2016.

1. Church-Wide Campaign: Well-executed church-wide campaigns leverage the HOST strategy (or the “if you have a couple friends” variation) to form new groups. Existing groups can be encourage to “take a small group vacation” and can multiply to form additional new groups. Leveraging the power of the senior pastor’s influence can lead to waves of unconnected people responding to the challenge of joining a six-week group (that can and often does choose to continue). See also, The Exponential Power of a Church-Wide Campaign and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.

Add-on strategies:

Further Reading:

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5 of the Best Studies for Small Group Connections

5-of-the-best-studies-for-small-group-connectionsI’m often asked “what are the best studies for small group connections?” This is a great question and actually a very important question.

Choosing the right study is important because the topic often determines who will say “yes” to joining the group.

I’ve written previously on the topic of how to choose the right study for small group connections. In that article I listed the four characteristics of studies that will connect unconnected people.

When I use those four characteristics to develop a list of the best studies for small group connections, I come up with this list:

Community: Starting Well in Your Groupcommunity starting well is the study used by North Point for groups launched at Group Link. It’s important to note that Community is not a Bible study.  Instead, it really is a guided conversation designed to help the members of your new group show up, join in, and be real.  Every session includes an introduction and short reading assignment to be read as preparation.  A skillfully designed set of discussion questions will help group members share their story in a way that will help them talk about things that help knit hearts together.

What on Earth Am I Here For?what on earth am i here for is the new name for the study that anchors 40 Days of Purpose. You might think, “Wait, that’s been around too long” or “wouldn’t the people we’re trying to connect have already done it?” but in reality, most of the people you are trying to connect will not have participated in the study previously. And the topic is spot on when you’re looking for one with broad appeal.

followFollow: No Experience Necessary is DVD-driven and each of the sessions is a 17 to 22 minute clip from an Andy Stanley message.  One of the most compelling communicators in America, this is must see TV.  Never flashy or fancy, Stanley is known for his ability to draw out life-changing truth and deliver it in a way that is both inspiring and very memorable.  Follow is an excellent example of his pattern of taking difficult or challenging ideas and presenting them in a way that leads to application.

wiser-togetherWiser Together: Learning to Live Together “challenges you and your small group to make doing life together a priority, exploring from the book of Proverbs the inseparable connection between experiencing community and growing in wisdom.” Featuring teaching by Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the sessions are classic examples of his style.  Each segment is a manageable length, the average time is 13 to 18 minutes.

relatableRelatable: Making Relationships Work is the newest study from Louie Giglio, senior pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder of Passion Conferences. DVD-driven,  Relatable is a 6 session study that features Giglio teaching live from a message series at Passion City Church in early 2015. The video sessions are excerpted from full messages and average 18 to 23 minutes long. A powerful speaker, Giglio has no trouble holding your members attention. Spoiler Alert: There are a number of moments when God’s presence in the room is palpable.

Certainly, these aren’t the only studies that will work well with a small group connection. In my mind they are among the very best because they fit the four characteristics of studies that will connect unconnected people.

Top 10 Articles on Identifying and Recruiting New Group Leaders

finding-searchlightI’ve been doing this awhile. I was thinking about this not too long ago and realized that my first try at building a small group system was in 1984. I don’t know what you were doing in 1984, but that was the year Apple ran the 1984 commercial during Super Bowl XVIII. Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term as President of the United States. Terms of Endearment won the Best Picture and crack cocaine was first introduced in Los Angeles.

I’ve been doing this awhile.

And there are a few questions that I’m asked over and over and again and again.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What’s the best way to find and recruit new small group leaders?”

Ever wondered that? Ever researched that question?

Here’s how I answer it when I have a few minutes: When I began I did what most people do. I was leading a college ministry and had been influenced by Campus Crusades “student led, staff driven” philosophy, so I thought about the students I knew who might make good leaders and asked them if they’d lead a group. That worked pretty well. Most of the guys and girls I recruited were a little more spiritually mature than average. I don’t remember any significant train wrecks.

This was my strategy for the next few years. It worked until I was in a church where there were more people that I didn’t know than people I knew. I began asking my existing leaders if there was someone in their group that might make a good leader. And that produced a few new leaders from time to time. In that particular case it didn’t produce enough new leaders to connect the number of people who had signed up for a group.

Ever been there?

The challenge of finding enough new leaders to connect a growing number of unconnected people forced me to begin running a bulletin blurb offering a training course for people who were interested in leading a small group. It was a reasonable strategy that seemed like a good idea at the time but really didn’t work very well. Certainly, some of the sign-ups were good people, but I discovered that many of the people who signed up for the course often had their own agenda and were really not suited to lead.

Ever been there?

Then, in 1999 I ended up at a church that had grown very quickly in its first few years and hadn’t really connected anyone. The first thing they did when I said I’d help them was hand me a stack of sign-up forms from people who wanted to be in a small group. The stack of forms was from the last several months and was 6 or 7 inches tall.

Ever been there? Maybe not exactly there, but you’ve had waaaay more people who are unconnected than connected and no way to find enough leaders to start enough groups to connect that many people?

You know how they say that “necessity is the mother of invention?” Maybe you’ve thought it was “desperation is the mother of invention?” I know I did when I saw the stack of sign-up forms!

Actually, the stack of sign-up forms created enough angst on the part of our senior pastor and staff that they were ready for a solution. “Any solution! Just get these people connected!”

I had heard about a strategy that Saddleback was using called a small group connection that would identify leaders from amongst the people who wanted to join a group and attended the event. Like everyone else, they had tried just about everything to find enough leaders to connect the people who wanted to join a group. At some point, you simply can’t know who everyone is and therefore you can’t know who the best available leaders are.

So…I was given permission to try Saddleback’s small group connection strategy. I took the stack of sign-up forms and contacted them to invite them to an event on a Sunday after the 11:00 a.m. service. We also ran an announcement in the bulletin and announced the event from the platform for 2 or 3 weeks.

We had a very large group sign up and a large group show up. I don’t remember the specifics for that one event, but over the next 15 months we started around 150 groups and kept 120 of them going. That is, we ran an event that helped about a thousand people identify over a hundred leaders. Leaders we didn’t know. You can read about the small group connection strategy right here.

In late 2002 we tried our first church-wide campaign. We were one of the first churches to try Saddleback’s host strategy. I shook my head when I heard what the plan was. It seemed crazy at a time when the connection strategy was working so well. But…when Kerry Shook asked our congregation who would be willing to host a group in their home nearly 1000 people stood up. Hello!

Now, don’t get me wrong. Both the connection strategy and the host strategy have problems. They are not problem-free. But they also find leaders, good leaders, when every other method has struggled or failed outright to keep up with demand.

Over the last few years we’ve continued to innovate. The connection strategy and the host strategy look different than they did when we first used them. And we’re still looking for the next wrinkle. In the fall of 2014 we tweaked the language of the host strategy and had amazing results. You can read about it in Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

Top 10 Articles on Identifying and Recruiting Small Group Leaders

I’ve organized these articles chronologically, so you can see the progression.

  1. Problem-Free Leader Identification and Recruitment (March, 2009)
  2. Small Group Leaders: Finding, Recruiting and Developing (February, 2010)
  3. The Upside of Reluctant Leaders (February, 2013)
  4. My Top 3 Ninja Ideas for Recruiting Small Group Leaders (June 2013)
  5. Three Realities in the Hunt for Small Group Leaders (October, 2013)
  6. 8 Secrets for Discovering an Unlimited Number of Leaders (December, 2014)
  7. 8 Things You Need to Know about Small Group Leaders (February, 2015)
  8. How Can I Find More Leaders? (August, 2015)
  9. True or False: Leaders with Apprentices Leads to More Groups? (June, 2016)
  10. Has Blind Spot #1 Limited Your Small Group Ministry? (July, 2016)

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5 November Actions that Impact January/February

five5 November Actions that Impact January/February

There are certain things I do in November that have a definite impact on January and February results.

  1. Check our teaching calendar for alignment opportunities. This is a high priority in November. Our teaching team has determined the weekend message series and this very often points to a hand-crafted one time experience that leads to a connecting opportunity.
  2. Check our ministry calendar for alignment opportunities. Our NEXT team has determined the dates of the experience that is our best first step out of the auditorium for new attenders and attenders ready to take a next step. Since the NEXT experience allocates about 25% of the time to the importance of being in a Life Group, we always want to line up a connection or short-term group to follow in a timely manner. See also, How Would You Rate the First Steps out of Your Auditorium?
  3. Plan the events and/or strategies we’ll use to connect unconnected people. January/February always presents one of the best opportunities all year to connect unconnected people, it makes a lot of sense to pay close attention to the planning of these events. We want our events and strategies to be in the best rooms, on the best days and at the best times. We want the promotion of the events and strategies to be highlighted as something of utmost importance (not second to other events or programs that simply turned their requests in earlier than we did). See also, 5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness and engagement of launch-phase coaches who helped sustain new groups in our fall campaign. Our best strategy for identifying new coaches is to recruit the best candidates to “help us” by taking 2 or 3 newbie leaders under their wing for the 8 to 10 weeks of the fall campaign. This easy opportunity allows us to watch them in action and see whether these “launch-phase coaches” are a good fit and should be invited to continue. It allows them to make a difference by helping 2 or 3 new group leaders get off to a good start. See also, How to Identify a Potential Coach.
  5. Plan our Christmas party for coaches and directors. Our coaches and directors (from a span of care sense, the men and women who coach coaches) invest much time and energy in doing TO and FOR the leaders they care for. We want our Coaches Christmas Party to reflect our appreciation for the vital part they play in developing and discipling our Life Group Leaders (and ultimately helping our leaders develop and disciple the members in their groups). See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciple Your Leaders.

Other than the fall ministry season, January and February gives you one of the very best opportunities all year to connect unconnected people. Don’t miss it! Investing time in planning will pay off.

By the way…the importance of January/February is why I’m launching my newest mini-course. How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch & Sustain More New Groups than Ever Before.

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5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

new-years-resolutions5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

If you want to build a thriving small group ministry it’s important to remember that you need to have a year-round approach to launching new groups. While the fall definitely presents the very best opportunity to connect the largest number of unconnected people, there are absolutely several other very good times every year to launch new groups (and connect people who for many reasons did not connect in the fall).

Late January/early February is another very good time to launch new groups. This season comes with certain motivations that aren’t part of the equation in the fall and need to be taken into consideration.

5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

  1. Every December finds another wave of unconnected people who realize they’ve got to make some changes. They’ve overspent on Christmas. They’re tired from trying to cart their children around to too many holiday commitments. They’ve overeaten and partied too much. They’ve let their exercise programs fall by the wayside. There is no better time of year than January/February to invite them to turn over a new leaf by getting involved with some other folks who are determined to have a better next year. That motivation provides an opportunity to use a study that appeals to people looking for a fresh start.
  2. The first of the year brings people who’ve just resolved to get involved in a church.  A very different motivation than the fall.  They’re not new to the area.  Just to the idea of attending.  That motivation provides an opportunity to choose a study that appeals to people who are new to your church.
  3. At least some of the new groups from your fall church-wide campaign did not survive the holidays, It is fairly common for a number of people who were part of a group in the fall (and loved finally being connected) to find themselves unconnected again. Establishing the mindset that sometimes it takes more than one try to connect with a group that really clicks will encourage unconnected people to try again.
  4. The first of the year presents an excellent opportunity to focus your congregation on your vision and mission. Many churches select a theme for the year and then choose a church-wide campaign or stand-alone study that will help get everyone on the same page.
  5. Not everyone is ready to respond to an invitation to join a small group. Some unconnected people are resistant to that invitation but very open to a lesser (or different) commitment. An on-campus “class” on the right topic present an easier first step out of the auditorium. Improving your marriage (Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage) or learning about relationships (The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating) are just two examples.

My Newest Mini-Course: How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

If you need help planning and launching a wave of new groups in January/February, please take a look at my newest mini-course:

How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

Don’t let this key season slip by without taking advantage of the opportunity! Take a hard look at my newest mini-course! Whether you can participate live or you need to take in the sessions on your schedule…it will definitely be worth every penny!

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How to Take the Pulse of Your Small Group Ministry

pulse

How to Take the Pulse of Your Small Group Ministry

If you want to build a thriving small group ministry you need to slow down long enough to periodically take its pulse. Yes, you need to keep one eye on the preferred future and the other eye on the next milestone, but taking an accurate pulse of your small group ministry provides an important gritty reality to what otherwise can be an exercise in mere fantasy.

I love this line from Winston Churchill:

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

Taking the pulse of your small group ministry does several important things:

  1. It ensures that you are still on the right trajectory
  2. It helps determine progress
  3. It can provide clarity about the effectiveness of strategic initiatives
  4. It helps you plan the next season or the next year

How to take the pulse of your small group ministry:

There are 4 basic steps to taking the pulse of your small group ministry:

  1. Determine what you will measure. Here are a few measurements and there certainly could be others:
    • How many active groups do you have? Choose a measurement you are comfortable with (i.e., are currently meeting, have met 4 times in the last 60 days, etc.).
    • How many people are actively attending your groups? Again, you choose a measurement you are comfortable with (i.e., have attended 4 times in the last 60 days, etc.).
    • How many new groups do you have? Depending on how frequently you plan to take the pulse, this could be “new this season” or “new this year.”
    • How many active coaches do you have (i.e., are they actively interacting with the leaders in their huddle)? It’s important to confirm activity. Coaches “in name only” may impress your supervisor, but it doesn’t build a thriving small group ministry.
    • How many people are actively taking a turn facilitating group meetings (whether the whole group or a subgroup)?
    • How many groups are serving together (pick the frequency you want, could be monthly or quarterly, etc.)?
  2. Determine how you will measure:
    • Create a survey (your survey could be a paper form or an electronic survey, Google forms are easy to create).
    • Determine your process (i.e., will you make a first pass by email and then a follow-up pass by phone?).
    • Set a completion date
  3. Take the survey
  4. Debrief what you learn:
    • Use the 4 Helpful Lists exercise (What’s Right, What’s Wrong, What’s Missing, What’s Confused).
    • Use what you learn to chart the course for the upcoming season or year.
    • Determine your goals for the next season or year.
    • Determine the lead measures that will help you arrive at the next milestone.

An annual or semi-annual pulse-taking exercise is a best practice you should establish. Being able to track year-over-year numbers is very beneficial. Having hard numbers at your disposal enables more accurate planning and accountability.

Further Reading

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FAQ: What Should We Be Measuring (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

measuring

FAQ: What Should We Be Measuring (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

I’m asked all the time “what we should be measuring in our small group ministries?” Actually, more often than not, when I’m talking with small group pastors they tell me what they’re measuring and then ask me what I think.

Can I let you in on a little secret? They’re often measuring the wrong things. See also, Are You Working on the Right Things (to build a thriving small group minisry)?

It turns out that most of us are tracking what are called lag measures (i.e., percentage connected, number of groups, number of people in groups, span of care, etc.). Now don’t get me wrong. Lag measures need to be tracked. It’s just that they are the results of the strategies and tactics that actually need to be measured.

What needs to be measured? Lead measures.

“‘Lead’ measures, on the other hand, are different: they foretell the result. They have two primary characteristics. First, a lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure also will change. Second, a lead measure is influenceable; it can be directly influenced by the team (p. 46-47).”

So if focusing on lead measures will help us achieve the major goals of our small group ministries…what might be an example or two of the right lead measures?

Example:

Let’s say your wildly important goal (WIG) is to move from 35% of your average adult worship attendance in groups to 55% of your average adult worship attendance in groups by November 15, 2017.

If that’s your goal, then the questions are:

  • “What are the strategies and tactics that are predictive (that is, if the lead measures change, the lag measure will also change)?”
  • “What are the strategies and tactics that are influenceable (that is, can be influenced directly by your team)?”

Predictive:

What are the activities (strategies and tactics) that will predict more groups and more people connected in groups? How about the following:

  • Plan and implement at least three successful launches that will start new groups between 11/7/16 and 9/15/17 (i.e., small group connection with all the trimmings in late January/early February, a short-term on-campus strategy two weekends after Easter ’17, and a church-wide campaign in September ’17).
  • Identify, recruit and develop a team of launch-phase coaches that will help your newest groups get off to a great start and continue meeting into their 3rd curriculum.

Influenceable:

The right lead measures are influenceable. That is, your team can do the things that provide the greatest opportunity for success. And they can be measured.

  • Plan and implement at least three successful launches that will start new groups between 11/7/16 and 9/15/17. There are steps that can and must be taken to ensure that the launches are on the calendar; that the launches are promoted skillfully; and that the launches are not in competition with other events/programs. Need coaching? Consider signing up for my mini-course: How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.
  • Identify, recruit and develop a team of launch-phase coaches. Again, there are steps that can and must be taken to ensure that you have identified, recruited and developed a team that can actually do what needs to be done. Consider signing up for my mini-course: How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

I’ve been reading a great book. 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney. A fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

Resources to help you achieve these lead measures:

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Are You Working on the Right Things (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

working-on-the-right-thingsAre You Working on the Right Things (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

Short and simple today.

A short and simple question: Are you working on the right things (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

“Are you working on the right things (to build a thriving small group ministry)?”

I’ve been reading a great book. 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney. A fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

The thing is, McChesney does a very good job of explaining that the key to achieving your wildly important goals (i.e., 100% or more of your average adult weekend worship attendance in groups, a span-of-care of one coach for every 5 small group leaders, etc.), is not the goal itself.

The WIG (wildly important goal) is what economists refer to as a “lag” measure. “A lag measure is the measurement of a result you are trying to achieve. We call them lag measures because by the time you get the data the result has already happened.”

Think about it. If your goal is to connect 100% or more of your average weekend adult attendance in groups, reaching your goal is awesome. But it doesn’t tell you until too late whether you are focusing on the right things.

“‘Lead’ measures, on the other hand, are different: they foretell the result. They have two primary characteristics. First, a lead measure is predictive, meaning that if the lead measure changes, you can predict that the lag measure also will change. Second, a lead measure is influenceable; it can be directly influenced by the team (p. 46-47).”

So think about what a lead measure or two might be for your wildly important goal. Let’s say your goal is to connect 100% of your average adult weekend attendance in groups.

Here’s how to arrive at a couple lead measures:

Predictive: What do you think might be a lead measure or two that would be predictive (that is, if you achieve the lead measure the lag number will also change)?

Influenceable: What would be a lead measure or two that would be influenceable (that is, the actions of your team can influence the outcome)?

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

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Your Philosophy of Ministry and Decision-Making

decision-makingYour Philosophy of Ministry and Decision-Making

Have you ever really thought through your philosophy of ministry? How about the assumptions that shape your small group strategy? See also, 10 Ideas that Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry and 7 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Strategy.

I know, it may seem like something you will do someday or something that would be nice to do if only you had more time. But, I have to tell you…once you have firm certain aspects of your philosophy and the assumptions that undergird your strategy, you will have a much, much easier time making decisions!

How will it make decision-making easier? Here’s an example:

A couple days ago I posted an article about How to Budget for a Thriving Small Group Ministry. In the article I listed four categories that I budget for and one of the categories was starting new groups. Another was our annual church-wide campaign. In the category for starting new groups I noted the following:

We budget money that will make it easy for a new host to say yes to hosting. When someone says “yes” to inviting a couple friends to do the study, we want to make it more affordable. We do that by “buying” down the price of the host kit (for example, the retail value of the Transformed host kit was $65. We sold them for $20).

We’ve made connecting unconnected people one of our highest priorities. It’s a higher priority than helping our existing groups continue (although we do want to do that too!).

My reference to this budget item drew a very good question from a reader:

“Are you offsetting the cost of the DVDs? I think you usually say you charge about $25 for the host kit and most DVDs that I’ve seen with the studies average [are much more expensive].”

And my answer to the reader was entirely shaped by my philosophy and assumptions:

Yes. When we did Transformed, the study guides retailed for $15 and the DVDs for $25. We had a budget for campaigns that allowed us to distribute the DVDs free to our group leaders and charge each member $10 for their study guide. In order to make it easy (and affordable) for new hosts who were inviting a couple unconnected friends to do the study with them, we sold them the kit for $20 ($70 retail).
We did not have the budget to do this when I first arrived. We got to this point by prioritizing new groups and the needs of the least connected.

To flesh out my response, here are a few other considerations:

  • When I arrived at Canyon Ridge in 2012 I discovered we were subsidizing the cost of many programs that were primarily designed to meet the needs of the already connected and more spiritually developed.
  • When I arrived at Canyon Ridge there wan’t a budget for connecting the least connected (i.e., church-wide campaigns, small group connections, etc.).
  • Over the course of the last 4 1/2 years we have progressively reapportioned the budget to prioritize the needs and interests of the least connected (and the least likely to have the discretionary funds to sign up).
  • While most of our already connected and more spiritually developed attenders (core, committed and congregation) have been understood the change, there have consistently been a few questions and comments (steadily decreasing) that required conversations.
  • All of this falls neatly under the heading of two of my most important assumptions
    • There are no problem-free solutions. All solutions come with a set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they would rather have.
    • Unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at our church.  Every delay at connecting them puts many of them in jeopardy.

Takeaway:

My philosophy of ministry and assumptions that shape my small group strategy make this a very simple decision.

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

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