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.
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.
Image by Jessica Pankratz