Yesterday we talked about the core philosophy that drives an exponential group system. If you missed step one, you can read about having a crowd-to-core philosophy right here.
Today I want to talk about step two in the process: Diagnosis: Brutal Honesty About Your Present. Sounds harsh. Brutal even. But without an honest evaluation of right now, you can’t possibly build an exponential system. So how do you evaluate your present? What are you looking for?
Here are the questions I use:
- Group life must be a life-on-life activity. It can’t be a purely educational experience. It’s about interaction. Can it happen on Sunday a.m. in a classroom setting? It can, but it will take work to create the right environment there. At the same time, it takes work to create the right environment in a living room.
- Group life must be promoted. By promoted I mean talked about, highlighted, mentioned, and referred to. It needs to happen in your pastor’s messages, in announcements, in testimonies, on your website, your e-newsletter, and your bulletin or program.
- Group life must be promoted all the time, not once a season or when it’s recruiting time, and certainly not in a kind of rotating emphasis where equal time is given to every ministry or program. This is a very important question about where you are right now. Without year-round promotion, you can’t get to exponential.
- Group life must be seen as an essential ingredient of spiritual growth. From a practical standpoint, it really needs to be seen as one of a very few essential ingredients. What are the others? Gathering for corporate worship and serving in a gift-based, passion-driven ministry. You’ll have difficulty getting to exponential if there is much there beyond those three.
How are you doing so far? When you evaluate the way things are right now in your ministry, is group life promoted year-round as an essential ingredient of spiritual growth?
The next diagnosis question is: How obvious is the path to connect with a group in your system? In other words, once I begin hearing about how essential group life is, will my next step be obvious? Can I see it prominently promoted on the website? Can I walk out into the lobby right after service and see what to do? Is the next step obvious?
Next, how easy is the first step? Can I take a baby step? Or do I have to be a world record long jumper like Carl Lewis? An example of easy is a six week test-drive on a timely and broadly engaging topic. An example of a difficult first step is Experiencing God or The Truth Project. Great studies, but at 12 to 14 weeks are too long for a first step.
Last, does the first step lead to a next step? This is a very important part of getting to exponential. It’s not that every group must survive or every person who joins continues. It’s that you’re doing what you must to build in the greatest possibility of survival.
Your next step is to pull together a conversation about how things really are right now in your ministry. You’ll need the right people around the table. It will take time. You’ll have to be honest. But here’s the thing. You’re kidding yourself if you think you can get to exponential from just anywhere. You need to rearrange the way things are today if you want to get somewhere different tomorrow.
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