This is a two-part concept. First, so that we’re all on the same page, let’s start with a definition:
on-ramp: noun [on-ramp, -awn] an entrance lane for traffic from a street to a turnpike or freeway
We all know what an on-ramp is when we’re driving, right? But when we’re talking about grouplife…it’s still just that basic concept of ways to go from the anonymity of the auditorium to the familiarity of the coffee table; to move from unconnected to connected.
On-ramps. Every church needs ‘em.
Now, let’s establish easy, obvious, and strategic:
One of the most important insights in the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry is the importance of thinking steps, not programs. In other words, rather than focusing on programs as solutions (home grown or off-the-shelf), we ought to be paying attention to designing steps that lead from where people are to where we want them to be.
Think steps, not programs. A very simple concept. A very powerful practice.
Within the practice of thinking steps, not programs, is the concept of making each of the steps easy, obvious, and strategic. Essentially, each step should be obvious (not hard to discover), easy (shouldn’t require a running start), and strategic (ought to lead in the right direction every time). You can read a more detailed explanation right here.
Can you see how the practice applies to grouplife? Getting connected to a group ought to be easy, obvious, and strategic.
Easy: That is, it shouldn’t take a lot of work to connect. Think about the process of connecting at your church. Start by thinking about the simple transaction of finding a group to join. Is it easy? Can a prospective member walk up to a booth after service and find a group? Or do they have to turn in a form and wait for a response? What about your website? Is it easy to find out how to join? Is it easy to find answers about what a small group is?
Obvious: In addition to being easy, how to join a group should also be obvious. In other words, it shouldn’t be a guessing game. Think about your lobby. Think about your website. Think about your bulletin. If anything requires a detailed explanation…it’s too hard.
Strategic: If you want to connect a lot of people, every thing you do needs to move people in the right direction. Steps that take people out of the way (think ongoing teaching venues where the participants “sit in rows”) are what Andy Stanley calls “sideways energy.” A strategic step might be an on-campus small group connection that leads to an off-campus small group.
Want do you think? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.