When Do You Begin Thinking about What’s Next?

When Do You Begin Thinking about What’s Next?

I don’t know about you…but I’m wired to begin thinking about what’s next right after I finish the conversation that puts what’s happening now into the receiving hands and minds of someone else (usually a team member or my assistant).

I am a borderline finder/conceiver on the thinking wavelength* assessment. I struggle with attending to the details of planning and the grind of execution and would much rather be hunting for (or even creating the next idea).

What about you? How would you describe your style or pattern of thinking? Are you really good at grinding away at the details (and even enjoy checking off progress on getting what’s now to happen?

Or maybe you’re good at minding someone (or a team of someones) who are grinding away at the details?

Or possibly you’re a natural at keeping a whole project moving in the right direction (but do best when someone hands you the objective and deliverables and you just need to identify the action steps and organize the team to accomplish them)?

Are you primarily one who finds the next idea, the next thing to do, sometimes fully formed and other times needing a slight tweak to fit your culture?

Or maybe you’re a little bit of a mad scientist and you’re most engaged when you can dream up or conceive what’s next almost out of thin air?

As I mentioned, I’m prewired as a blend of finding and conceiving what’s next. I’ve got a little mad scientist in me, but I also love finding concepts or frameworks that just need reimagining to be an excellent solution for a gap in our strategy.

What about you?

How would you describe your style or pattern of thinking, your thinking wavelength*? Grinder, minder, keeper, finder, or conceiver?

How you’re wired makes a difference in the way you function (and set your team to function if you lead a team). For example, as a finder/conceiver I have to be sure that I’ve recruited or hired some grinders and minders and given them everything they need to make what’s now a reality. I also need to have a keeper on the team if I want to be free to move about the idea shelf or spend any time in the mad scientist laboratory.

Important Note: Sometimes you need to function outside of your comfort zone in order to succeed in the now. Even though I am a finder/conceiver, there are times when I must buckle down and channel my inner minder/keeper if I want the project to succeed.

It’s really important to understand that:

  1. You can function for a time in another capacity (i.e., finders can be minders and even grinders, keepers can edge over into finding, etc.).
  2. Functioning in another capacity will cause boredom/monotony or anxiety/stress depending on your natural thinking wavelength. For example, as a finder/conceiver operating as a minder/grinder can make for some long days (while operating in my normal wavelength makes the day fly by). Or, someone prewired as a minder/keeper but functioning as a finder/conceiver might feel anxious or even stressed when given the task of coming up with how to do what’s been calendared.

*My friend Eric Geiger does a good job of explaining the thinking wavelength concept

Image by Blondinrikard Fröberg

Here’s What’s on My Ministry “To Do” List for 2018

Here’s What’s on My Ministry “To Do” List for 2018

Every year about this time I begin assembling my “to do” list for the next year. This year is no different. But…this may be the most ambitious list I’ve made in quite a while!

Here’s what’s on my list for 2018:

Help build a leadership pipeline and pathway for Canyon Ridge.

Help build a leadership pipeline and pathway for Canyon Ridge. This will include developing a proposal, assembling a team, and beginning to systematically create and put in place the pieces.

While this is not a small group ministry thing, its development will make the development of group leaders more business-as-usual and less dependent on out of the ordinary things coming together.

Assist in the overhaul and redesign of our engagement funnel.

Assist in the overhaul and redesign of our engagement funnel.* This will include an exhaustive analysis of our first step out of the auditorium and the next steps currently part of our pathway.

Again, while this is not exclusively a small group ministry thing, the work will lead to connecting more unconnected people and making better disciples.

*The engagement funnel is something I learned to develop as part of my StratOp training with Intentional Churches. Email Me to learn more about how I can help you with this.

See also, How to Design Next Steps and First Steps

Reengage the prioritization of apprenticing within our Groups ministry.

Reengage the prioritization of apprenticing within our Groups ministry. The apprenticing strategy (both with leaders and coaches) is an essential element in the development of a leadership pipeline and pathway at Canyon Ridge,

While we believe there are other more effective ways to identify, recruit and develop the number of new leaders needed to connect the number of unconnected people in our congregation and crowd, church-wide apprenticing will greatly enhance our ministry and campus multiplication vision.

See also, True or False: Leaders with Apprentices Leads to More Groups

Work with the Groups Team to reimagine and energize the leadership culture within our Groups Ministry.

Work with the Groups Team to reimagine and energize the leadership culture within our Groups Ministry. What can be built quickly is rarely sufficient to meet the needs in later phases of development.

As you probably remember, when faced with the decision between connecting as many unconnected people as possible or building a coaching and leader development program, I always err on the side of connecting as many unconnected as possible.

Still, now is the time and 2018 is the year to put in place the elements that will enable us to scale more effectively and sustain an even higher percentage of the new groups we launch.

See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?

Assist in the development of a church-wide discipleship pathway.

Assist in the development of a church-wide discipleship pathway. Not a separate program, this will become a normal experience and set of steps for new groups that form and existing groups already in our groups system. The first step is the development of a multi-week experience that will expose  group members to a set of core convictions and vision.

The development of a standardized beginning for groups and group members will assist in ensuring the inclusion of a new set of ordinary at Canyon Ridge (as opposed to extraordinary).

See also, Would You Rather: Connect More People or Make More Disciples?

Image by Camilla Oliveira

RESOURCE: Andy Stanley on The Complexity of Purpose

I spent some time this last weekend re-listening to a two-part Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast that I think you need to listen to, take notes, and put into practice. The Complexity of Purpose, Part One and Two, is so good and really too good to miss. It will have an immediate impact on your ministry if you’re paying attention.

Why do you need to listen to it? Purpose is so important in our role! It’s too easy to begin seeing the job we do as the end as opposed to the means to an end. And if we want to have meaning, we must begin to function as a means to an end.

What is the end? I think it will be be better for you to listen in and then do the work of figuring out the end for your ministry.

Can you see how purpose is so important in the philosophy of ministry discussion? If we don’t know the purpose behind what we do, we almost always make decisions based on the wrong things.

Here are the two podcasts:

Click here to listen to part one.

Download the listening guide right here.

Click here to listen to part two.

Download the listening guide right here.

Here are a few quotes I found helpful:

“Purpose is about becoming a means to an end that is not you.”

“Saying no to myself so I can say yes to something bigger.”

“Purpose is always found just across the border from what’s in it for me.”

“Purpose is the pathway to meaning.”

“Those who devote themselves to themselves will eventually have nothing to show for themselves.”

“The starting point for the discussion is the question, ‘Who are we here for?'”

“Begin looking at everything you’re doing through the lens of means.” For example, raising children is not the end, it is the means to an end.

“Pay attention to what stirs your heart or what breaks your heart.”

“At the end of my life what would I want people to line up to thank me for?”

“What leads you down a path to become a means to an end.”

“Purpose is often found at the intersection of a broken heart or a stirred heart and opportunity and skill.”

“Surround ourselves with on-purpose people.”

Additional Resources:

Andy Stanley: Random Thoughts on Leadership

Organizational Culture: Must-Read and Listen Resources

If I Was Starting Today…Part 4

If I Was Starting Today…Part 4

(This is part 4 of a 7 part series.  You can read part 1 right here)

If I knew then what I know now…I’d work harder to develop a sequence of spiritual next steps and I’d narrow our focus to include only the steps that actually lead to where we want people to go. See also, Crowd-to-Core: An Essential Understanding at the Heart of My Strategy.

“Narrowing the focus” and “thinking steps, not programs” are concepts that come from 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner. What’s the core concept? Rather than developing (or buying off-the-shelf) programs that will draw a crowd, we need to design steps that lead to where we want our people to go and then we need to eliminate the options that don’t lead cleanly to there.

How does that apply to the business we’re all in? Let’s unpack the idea.

Two basic approaches

At the risk of oversimplifying, let’s say that there are two basic approaches to the ministry (or activity) menu:

  1. There’s the cafeteria approach (think long display of options with multiple entrees, sides, breads and desserts). This is your approach if there are multiple options for people to choose from and not all of them are equally designed to take people where you want them to grow.
  2. There’s the streamlined approach (In-n-Out Burger, the entire menu consists of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and drinks). This is your approach if your menu is simple and choosing what to do next is clear.

Thinking steps means narrowing down the menu to only those choices that move your people in the direction you want them to go.

How does this apply to small group ministry? 

How does this apply to small group ministry?

If you’re offering groups and a few other ways that a person can grow spiritually, it is a complication that many people have difficulty processing.  You might think options bring increased buy-in, but it turns out that options may actually be demotivating.


Need evidence? In a fascinating study by Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper (Choice is Demotivating) it was learned that more is rarely better. Their study examined customer responses to two jam sampling opportunities on two consecutive weekends at a high-end grocery store in Menlo Park, CA. The first weekend featured a stand with 24 selections (extensive choice). The second weekend featured a stand with just 6 selections (limited choice). Of the 242 customers who passed by the sampling stand with 24 choices, 60% stopped while only 40% stopped at the limited choice stand the following weekend. Predictably, the customers seemed to prefer the more extensive choice. Surprisingly, the checkout stand revealed a different story. 30% of the limited choice customers purchased jam while only 3% of the extensive choice customers purchased jam.



What does jam have to do with thinking steps, not programs and narrowing the focus? If you’ve prepared a jam-packed menu that gives too many options you shouldn’t be surprised when your congregation has a hard time choosing what is best.

What would I do if I were in your shoes?

If I were in your shoes I would begin by spending some time evaluating what I call your present. Developing a clear understanding of what is really true about your present conditions is essential. If you want to get to your preferred future, you must first understand where you are.

Next, I’d begin working to narrow the focus to only the steps that lead effectively and efficiently in the direction we want everyone to go (in the direction of the preferred future. See also, What Do You Need to Change about Your Small Group Ministry?

You can read part 5 right here.

Image by Makia Minich

What Do You Need to Change about Your Small Group Ministry?

What Do You Need to Change about Your Small Group Ministry?

That question is at the essence of the problem for many of us.

What do you need to change about your small group ministry?

When we stop to think about…if we take the time to think about it…all of us  almost always already have a pretty good idea about what needs to change about our small group ministries.

We just can’t bring ourselves to make the change. It’s just easier to pretend that it’s okay. Or more to the point, we can’t bring ourselves to have the first conversation(s) that lead to the change that needs to happen.

Can I give you my prescription? 

Can I give you my prescription for change? Admittedly, there are times that I’m right there with you. That is, I know what needs to change but I’m not ready to do the first thing or two that will lead to change happening.

But, I still know the steps I need to take (and most of the time I take them quickly).

Here’s my prescription:

First, identify the most important conversation(s) that must happen before you can begin to make the change.

Let’s say you realize that in order for your small group ministry to flourish, one or more menu items must be eliminated (or at least positioned differently). That is, instead of promoting three ways an unconnected person can get connected, you’ll now only promote ways to get connected to a new off-campus group.

What are the conversations that must happen before you can make that change? You already know what they are. Right?

The first step is to make a list of the people that need to be informed (or more likely, persuaded).

Second, beginning with the most influential person, make an appointment to have the conversation(s).

Note: I intentionally wrote “conversation(s)” because it will almost always take more than one conversation to effect any change.

Also, I believe it is important to start with the most influential person and in most cases, that is your senior pastor. In order to have confidence for the next conversation(s), you’ll need to have already developed an understanding with the most influential person.

And it may take more than one conversation. It may take several tries to lay out your case and persuade them of the merits of the change you want to make.

And that’s okay. Every step you’re taking is moving you in the direction of the change.

Third, once you’ve developed the support of the most influential person, begin scheduling any other conversations that must happen.

Again, it may take more than one conversation. And frankly, the change you need to make may require developing a sequence of steps that lead in the direction of your preferred future.

For example, while you may need to eliminate one or more menu items, it may be easier (and still productive) to deemphasize them but at least for the time being continue to allow them to happen.

Note: Deemphasizing a menu option may include changing how you promote it, when and where it is offered, the cost to participate, etc.

Fourth, follow through on making the change you’ve identified and discussed.

Amazingly, many of us can actually point to changes that were discussed and even approved that never made it out of the conversation stage.

“Yeah, we’ve had all those conversations at least once, but we’re still offering and promoting all of the menu items as if they are equally important.”

Don’t let that be your story! Once you’ve identified the change that needs to happen and had the conversations that must be had, follow through!

Fifth, monitor (and report) the impact of the change.

Whenever you make a change there will be both upsides and downsides. There will be verbal supporters and detractors. More importantly, there will be lead indicators that point to eventual success (or the absence of lead indicators that may point to the need for further adjustment).

It’s important to carefully monitor the impact of change because the easiest thing to do, and the natural thing to do, is to revert back to the previous pattern.

In Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry I point out that the trajectory your small group ministry is currently on was established over a long time and is a deeply ingrained. Changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence.

See also, Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry

Finally, when you arrive at the first milestone, be sure and begin setting up the conversations that will lead to the next change that needs to be made.

The easiest course of action is to quit before you even begin. The next easiest course of action is to quit too soon. Remember, changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence!

Further Reading:

Dilbert on Resistance to Change

5 Clues that Point to a Change in Small Group Strategy

5 Ways Your Small Group Ministry Needs to Change…Today

General Eric Shinseki on Change and Irrelevance

Image by Felix Burton

 

If I Was Starting Today…Part 3

If I Was Starting Today…Part 3

(This is part 3 of a 7 part series.  You can read part 1 right here)

I’ve been at this a while. Maybe you have too! All I know is, with over 25 years of small group ministry experience I’ve learned a thing or two. And guess what? If I knew way back then what I know now, I’d have a different way of looking at a lot of things!

For example, one thing I would definitely look at differently would be the way I defined success.  How so? Well, for starters I wouldn’t call a certain number of groups “success.” And before you even begin to get worked up, I also wouldn’t call a certain number of people in groups, a certain number of apprentice leaders or coaches “success” either. Nope, if I were starting today and knew what I know…I’d definitely define success differently.

What would I call success?

So, what would I call “success”? Easy. And hard work at the same time. I’d spend time thinking about what it is that I want to produce, identify a way of measuring it, and set up a scorecard to keep track. Let’s break those three ideas down.

First, I’d think about what it is that I want to produce.

First, I’d think about what it is that I want to produce. I’d want my product to be men and women who love extravagantly, give generously, and serve selflessly. For me, off the cuff, that’s a pretty good short list. Of course, you can see that every church should really have its own criteria.

Can you see that I’d plug all of these things into the way I’m describing my preferred future? You could do this too!

See also, Start with the End in Mind and 5 Keys to Arriving at Your Preferred Future.

Second, I’d identify a way of measuring what I produced.

Second, I’d identify a way of measuring how effectively we’re producing what we’re trying to produce. I’d have to define “extravagantly,” but once I had the definition then I could set up a way to quantify that trait. Not only that, but I’d be able to measure periodically and see movement.

Can you see the things I’m describing are really the lead measures that predict arrival at the preferred future?

See also, Are You Working on the Right Things (to build a thriving small group ministry)? and FAQ: What Should We Be Measuring (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

Third, I’d set up a scorecard

Third, I’d set up a scorecard to keep track of progress. With carefully identified lead measures, it would not be difficult to track on a scorecard.

Need some examples? How about tracking group members who served in a set of out-of-the-norm opportunities (homeless shelters, foster services, after-school mentoring, etc.) or gave generously (to a special cause or above and beyond last quarter’s donations).

Fourth, if I did set up a scorecard

Fourth, if I did set up a scorecard, I could even adjust my weekend teaching calendar and small group curriculum to work on areas or that need to be developed.

Can you see how adjusting the weekend teaching calendar and small group curriculum could help move small group members in the right direction?

Why would I do this differently?

Why would I do this differently? Easy. Measuring the number of groups, people in groups, apprentices, or coaches doesn’t actually tell me whether I’ve created the optimum environment for life-change to happen. Much as I like knowing whether I’m adding groups and connecting a higher percentage of my congregation, that’s nothing more than increasing the size of my delivery system. At the end of the day, the delivery system itself has to deliver the right things. That’s what I want to measure. And that’s what will determine what I call “success.”

This is part 3 of a 7 part series. You can read part 4 right here.

Further Reading:

Start with the End in Mind

5 Keys to Arriving at Your Preferred Future

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

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

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If I Was Starting Today…Part 2

(This is part 2 of a 7 part series. If you missed part 1, you can read it right here)

If I knew then what I know now…I would have worked harder to be crystal clear on who my real customer was and designed my strategy to fit them. I realize that to some of us that seems so obvious…but let me unpack the idea before you hit delete.

Peter Drucker, famous for asking great questions, pushed organizations to  ask themselves a few core questions. The first question was “What business are we in?” That was #1 in this series of posts. The second question he would push all of us to ask is, “Who is our customer?” But before we go any further, lets work on the word “customer.”

Classic Understanding of “Customer”

If we managed a restaurant or a grocery store we’d see this right away, but it might pay off to dig around the idea a little bit. If we thought about it we would quickly acknowledge that everyone who shops at our store or eats at our restaurant are our customers. We would be watching them carefully, trying to really understand their needs and interests, in order to keep them eating or shopping with us.

Clear so far? We would understand the word customer to mean the people already using our services or buying our products. At the same time we’d have hopes of expanding our customer base, attracting more customers, winning them over to shop or eat with us. We might understand the group going into the restaurant across the street as prospective customers…but we’d put most of our energy into catering to the group that already shops or eats with us. (Is this thinking starting to scare you?)

The Real Customer

When I use the term, “The real customer,” I’m talking about the people in the crowd who aren’t yet part of a small group. I believe understanding the crowd is the key to helping the unconnected people in your crowd get connected. Paying attention to their challenges, interests, concerns and hopes will help you design a strategy that will inspire them to put a toe in the water.

What Is the Problem?

That seems so easy! Why aren’t we doing that already? Because we’re focusing on the challenges, interests, concerns and hopes of the people who are already deep on the inside…and that is a problem. Why? Because they’re different than the people in the crowd. Maybe only slightly, but they are different. If you want to help the people in the crowd move into community you will have to understand them and then design your approach to appeal to them.

Why is that a problem? Thinking like the group just outside the congregation (the crowd) is a little bit of a stretch sometimes. After all, the longer we’ve been in ministry, even the longer we’ve been a Christ-follower, the harder it gets to think like someone just outside and design our approach to appeal to them.

What Is the Solution?

Spend some of your energy getting to know the people in the crowd. You know some of them already. Some you only know by face…not by name. Getting to know them, reaching out to learn more about them, will help you see how to help them connect. I’ve found it helpful to simply ask myself if I could invite them to my small group? Would they like what we’re doing? Would it meet a need they are aware of? Would it help them with a challenge they know they have?

What Is the Bigger Problem?

Of course, this whole discussion leads to a different, bigger problem. How do I help my current customers begin to see themselves as team members who are empowered to help new customers connect? That is a discussion for a later post! In the meantime…take some time to get to know the people in the crowd. Think about them as you’re designing your connection strategy. They’re the real customer.

This is part 2 of a 7 part series. You can read part 3 right here.

Further Reading

Do You Really Understand Your Customer?

Small Group Ministry Case Study: Choosing Your Customer

Which Customer Is Your Ministry Designed to Connect?

Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer?

Image by Sérgio Bernardino

Organizational Culture: Must-Read and Listen Resources

Organizational Culture: Must-Read and Listen Resources

You may consider the subject of organizational culture above your pay grade or a field of expertise that you don’t need or that has little to do with building a thriving small group ministry. If that’s you…I’m sorry, but I must beg you to reconsider.

Instead, I believe it is essential learning if you’re building a thriving small group ministry.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker

Noted organizational consultant and author, Peter Drucker pointed out that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I submit that a ministry with an unhealthy culture cannot become anything significant. Therefore, the leaders of ministries who fail to become students of culture do so at the peril of their organizations.

Leaders of ministries who fail to become students of culture do so at the peril of their… Click To Tweet

On that note, here is a set of podcasts, articles and books that will help you take your understanding of organizational culture to a new level:

Andy Stanley on Organizational Culture

Make It Better

Defining Your Organizational Culture – Part 1

Defining Your Organizational Culture – Part 2

Craig Groeschel on Creating a Values-Driven Culture

Craig Groeschel on Creating a Values-Driven Culture – Part 1

Craig Groeschel on Creating a Values-Driven Culture – Part 2

The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace by S. Chris Edmonds. I’m 50 pages into this one and it’s already proving to be rich in ideas and  insights.

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT by Paul Marciano. One of the highest rated books I could find on the topic.

Ministry in a Fog? 6 Critical Questions that Create Clarity in Organizations. My takeaway from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business.

How Do You Change Organizational Culture by Michael Hyatt. This is Michael’s backstage interview with Patrick Lencioni.

21 Signs Your Church Staff Has Toxic Team Culture by Nicole Cochran of the Vanderbloemen Search Group.

The Most Recent Things I’ve Learned…AGAIN

The Most Recent Things I’ve Learned…AGAIN

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Whether this famous one-liner was first said by Winston Churchill, Edmond Burke or George Santayana may be up for debate, but the truth of the statement isn’t.

One of the most important things we can do is learn everything we can from what just happened.

When we take the time to carefully scrutinize the event or program just concluded, including the process of conception and development, the sequence of promotion that led up to it, and the follow-up elements and next steps that flowed from it…we win every time.

When we pull out our learnings from previous efforts and use them to better prepare for the next time, our event or program is much more likely to succeed (provided we didn’t learn that the event or program shouldn’t be done again).

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Winston Churchill Click To Tweet

How to evaluate an event or program

The best way I’ve discovered to evaluate an event or program (from top to bottom and beginning to end) is a tool created by Tom Paterson, the legendary business consultant. Today, Paterson’s strategic thinking and the process he developed are used everyday, around the world to help organizations get better.*

One of the tools Paterson developed is referred to as The 4 Helpful Lists. The essence of the exercise is to have a robust conversation about the following four aspects of an event or program (or ministry):

  • What’s right? The aspects that were right are captured on a long list. This list is often the easiest to develop.
  • What’s wrong? The aspects that were wrong are also captured on a list. Participants in the discussion are often reluctant to call out the things that didn’t work, but with encouragement will come around and contribute.
  • What’s confused? Taking the time to develop this list will pay big dividends. Calling out the aspects that weren’t clear or were hard to understand or respond to will help you evaluate one of the most important pieces of any ministry program.
  • What’s missing? Once your conversation gets going, you’ll begin to remember that certain aspects were missing. Capturing them on a list will help you think about improving what you are doing.

You can probably already see that distinguishing between what was wrong, confused or missing requires discernment. That there might be some aspects that would be initially placed on the “wrong” list but are later discerned to belong on the missing or confused list.

The fruit of the discussion is a detailed evaluation that can lead to a better next step, provided lessons were learned and remembered. The things that were right can be optimized. The things that were wrong can be fixed. The things that were confused can be clarified. And the things that were missing can be added.

Remember, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

*I am a licensed StratOp facilitator with Intentional Churches and would love to talk with you about how the process can be used at your church to double your kingdom impact again and again. Email Me to find out more about it.

How to Reach Milestones (on the way to your preferred future)

How to Reach Milestones (on the way to your preferred future)

In today’s post I want to explain a process that I think will help all of you. Since all of us are attempting to build a thriving small group ministry, one of the things we must learn is how to identify the preferred future we’re aiming for and how to chart a course that will arrive there.

First, the backstory:

Before I can explain the process, I need to give you a little context. I need to explain the backstory that led me here.

Helping churches build thriving small group ministries is my passion. Helping small group ministries get to there is what it’s all about for me.

To help churches understand getting to there, I embraced the language of business consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker and have long been asking, “What business are you in?” “Who is your customer?” and “What will you call ‘success’?”

In 2005 I read Andy Stanley’s Seven Practices of Effective Ministry and was introduced to the idea of clarifying the win (read: clarifying what you will call success).

But it was a combination of Will Mancini’s Church Unique Glen Hiemstra’s Turning the Future into Revenue that alerted me to the importance of truly identifying the preferred future (mountaintop for Mancini) and the identifying the milestones that lead to there. See also, Start with the End in Mind.

And that led me directly to the concept I want to share with you here.

Projects, Objectives, Deliverables, and Action Steps

Think of building a thriving small group ministry as the project. It isn’t something you do in a single move. It’s something that happens over seasons and years.

As you’re building you’re steadily moving toward the preferred future you’ve identified. Two steps forward and one step back. Three steps forward and two steps back. And throw in an occasional loss of ground for realism.

But it happens over seasons and years.

Think of the milestones you identify as leading directly to (and only to) the preferred future you’ve identified. They are your objectives.

As you identify the objectives (milestones) along the way to the mountaintop (preferred future) you’ll pursue them with determination and perseverance. Your first objective may take you 3 to 6 months (or even 9 months to a year).

Example: An example of a milestone might be building the beginnings of an effective coaching structure with  the right men and women doing the right things and for the right number of group leaders. See also, Have You Identified the Milestones that Lead to Your Preferred Future?

Reaching each of the milestones you’ve identified will require certain deliverables being delivered. Deliverables are the things or outcomes that must be developed in order to reach the objective.

Example: An example of a deliverable might to recruit enough coaches to provide a one to five span of care (one coach for every 5 leaders).

A set of action steps are required to produce the deliverables (required to reach the objective.

Example: Examples of the action steps required in this case might be  an understanding of the characteristics of an effective coach, a job description for coaches, a recruiting protocol, and a script.

How to use the process:

After you’ve identified the preferred future you see for your small group ministry, the next step is to identify the first milestone (objective) that you need to reach. Think of a milestone as a spot along the path that you can reach within the next 3 to 6 months. While the first milestone can be farther down the road, I’ve found it helpful to make the first objective a quicker win.

Once you identify the objective, give some thought to, and then begin identifying the deliverables that will make arrival at the milestone possible.

And once you identify the deliverables, brainstorm and whiteboard the action steps required to deliver the deliverables. Make the action steps bite sized.

Once you have the action steps, it’s time to begin chipping away at them, completing them sequentially, so you can deliver the first of several deliverables.

Need help?

Need help? I reserve time every year to work with a select group of churches ready to build a thriving small group ministry.  Email me to find out more.

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