Can Your Small Group Ministry Take These Four Next Steps?

When you are a beginner, you do what beginners can do.  Think about when a newborn turns over for the very first time.  Or takes their first step.  Or puts a phrase together.

Clearly, there are things that you do when you are a beginner.

And then there are things you can only do once you have mastered the basics and are ready for what’s next.

I think there are small group ministry steps like that.

Actually, I think the best way to begin is to begin.  Sure, there is the temptation to carefully lay the groundwork and slowly build a solid foundation.  But I believe that long preparations come at the expense of unconnected people.  And unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again.  See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?

So the best way to begin is to begin.  And build the bridge as you walk on it.

But once you’ve begun it will soon be time to take next steps.  Like what?  Like these!

Four Next Steps for Small Group Ministries:

Refine your preferred future.  You’ve given some thought already to the preferred future for your small group ministry.  Now it’s time to refine it and fill in some blanks.  Writing down, wordsmithing or crafting the picture of your preferred future will help you get there.  Clarifying today what your small group leaders and coaches will be like in your preferred future will help you arrive.  More importantly, knowing where you are going will help you make decisions along the way(i.e., “If we are going to arrive there, we will do this and not this.”)  See also, Creating Your “Refined” Preferred Future.

Create a preferred future “org chart.”  In his groundbreaking book, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber described the power of creating an org chart for your future organization complete with every role you will one day need:

  • filling in the names those currently owning the responsibilities (often it will be your own name)
  • systematically writing job descriptions for these roles, and
  • recruiting the right people to fill the roles

What a fantastic idea!  Can you imagine the potential of this simple next step?  See also, Creating the Organization You Will Need Sooner Than Later.

Evaluate and reinvest in an effective coaching structure.  Developing a culture of evaluation is a wise step.  Casting vision for the value of open-handedness, the servant quality that acknowledges the truth that “I may not always be the best fit for this role,” is another very wise step.  The year in, year out refreshing of your coaching team will keep you moving toward your refined preferred future.  Committing again to invest in the development of your coaches is also an essential ingredient that builds a truly effective coaching structure.  See also, What Does Coaching Look Like in Your Preferred Future?

Establish a small group leader pathway.  Establishing a small group leader pathway is an important ingredient to building a thriving small group ministry.  Whether you have fully embraced my philosophy that lowering the leader bar and simultaneously raising the coaching bar produces more leaders and more groups, when you recruit a small group leader you ought to have a journey in mind for them that takes them from “host” or “newbie” to “shepherd” and “seasoned leader.”  See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway.

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

Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative

emotionally healthy spiritualityFinally had a chance to finish previewing a new church-wide initiative from Peter Scazzero and Zondervan.  Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an 8 session campaign based on Scazzero’s best-seller by the same title.  You probably remember Scazzero’s previous book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, a groundbreaking best-seller that was awarded a Gold Medallion by the ECPA.

The Main Idea

“The main idea is that emotional health (defined as our ability to be self-aware and love well) and contemplative spirituality (that is slowing down to cultivate our relationship with Jesus), offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution in our lives.”

The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) Church-Wide Initiative has a number of elements:

  • EHS Church-Wide Initiative Resource DVD: This includes the preaching series and promotional pieces as well as a How to Run the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative.
  • EHS book (the workbook guides participants to read the chapters that correspond to the upcoming session)
  • EHS Day by Day book (includes devotional reading to be completed in the week following the session).
  • EHS Course DVD includes a short DVD segment to be watched by the group as the study session begins.
  • EHS Course Workbook will guide the group through their session together.

Small groups participate using The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course, an 8 session DVD-driven small group study. The video segments are short (11 to 15 minutes) and feature Pete Scazzero.  Scazzero’s content provides a good setup for the session and is delivered in a straightforward and easy-to-follow manner.

The EHS Course workbook is well designed and easy to use.  It includes an icebreaker question and a thought-provoking set of discussion questions.  Each session also includes a Bible study that will help the group make the connection between scripture and emotionally healthy spirituality.  The workbook also includes material for between sessions personal study (enhanced by readings in the EHS Day to Day book) and a simple leader’s guide.

The EHS Day to Day book is a kind of daily devotional with a very basic premise: “We need to intentionally stop to be with God more than once a day so that practicing the presence of God becomes real in our lives.”  As such, it includes a morning segment and a midday/evening segment.

The EHS book is not an especially difficult read, but it will be challenging from the standpoint of time commitment for the average group member.  The combination of readings from the Day to Day book and readings from the book itself will force many to choose between the two.  Although the group member experience will be enhanced by the reading, members can easily grasp the concepts without the book.

Emotionally healthy spirituality is not a topic that will easily capture the imagination or peak the interest of every member.  Pastors and group leaders will need to encourage members to wade into these waters.  At the same time, The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course will provide a powerful life-changing experience for groups and group members that roll up their sleeves and do the work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Big Idea Behind Small Group Coaching

Without a doubt, the struggle to build an effective coaching structure is one of the most challenging aspects in building a thriving small group ministry.  I hear this again and again.  I’ve probably heard this over a thousand times in my 20+ years of small group ministry.

Taking my cue from Jim Collins and Great by Choice I wrote SMaC Recipe for Small Group Ministry Coaching.  Recently I wrote 7 Rules at the Essence of Small Group Coaching.

Over the last few years I’ve written a ton of posts in the effort to make building an effective small group coaching structure easier to understand and more likely to happen.   I’ve even created a downloadable short course to make it as easy as possible.

Still, I know it is a challenge.

Essentially, small group coaching is a big idea but a simple idea.  A very simple idea.

Here’s the big idea of small group coaching:

Identify, recruit and develop high capacity men and women who will invest their efforts in doing to and for (and with) leaders of groups whatever you want the leaders of groups to do to and for (and with) their members.

It’s a very simple idea.  It isn’t easy.  It is challenging to do.  But it is not complicated.

  1. Identify high capacity men and women.  It does require finding the right people.  You can’t build an effective coaching structure with warm and willing.  You need hot and qualified.  See also, First What, Then Who.
  2. Recruit them to the role.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to recruit.  How you recruit makes all the difference.  See also, How to Recruit a Small Group Coach: My “Secret” Formula
  3. Develop them.  Once you know what you want the member experience to be, it is easy to figure out what a coach must know how to do.  It is important that you understand that whatever you want to happen at the member level must happen to the leader first.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and 7 Practices for Developing and Discipling Your Coaches.

Ready to throw in the towel?  Don’t!  Coaching is an essential ingredient in building a thriving small group ministry.  It is challenging, but it is not complicated.

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

How to Do an “Exit Interview” for a Launch-Phase Coach

In a previous post I shared my “secret formula” for how I recruit a small group coach.  If you didn’t read it, you should go back and read it first.  What I’m going to tell you today will make a lot more sense.

Today I want to tell you how I do a kind of “exit interview” for a launch-phase coach when they come to the end of their “ten week commitment (again, if you didn’t read my previous post, go back and read it).

A 10 Week Commitment

The idea of a short-term commitment is important for two reasons:

  1. Just like when you make the HOST ask and it’s for 6 weeks, a short-term commitment appeals to a potential coach.  They are more likely to “give it a try” if it’s for 10 weeks than what appears to be a one year commitment or a lifetime appointment (like a supreme court judge).
  2. 10 weeks gives you time to evaluate their performance and satisfaction.  This is important because you want to end up with coaches who are both fruitful in their role and fulfilled in doing it.  They need to be BOTH fruitful and fulfilled.  One or the other will never do.  A coach who is anything less than fruitful and fulfilled will be a poor fit for the role.

How to Do an “Exit Interview” for a launch-phase coach:

With that reminder, here’s how I do an “exit interview” for a launch phase coach.

Step One

As the new groups the launch-phase coach is coaching are moving through their first study together, it will often be obvious whether their coach is actually engaged.  The leader’s will mention the coach and their helpfulness or the coach will mention their conversations with the new leader(s).  We are keeping close tabs on new groups and as they approach week 4 or 5 we want to know whether they are thinking about continuing and we ask the coaches to check in with each of their leaders about their plans.

Note: In the same way we want the coach to have a weekly conversation with each new leader by phone or in person, a community leader is touching base with each new coach every week during their 10 week commitment.

Step Two

When we schedule an exit interview we will already know how many of the coach’s new groups are planning to continue.  We’ll also have a sense for the coach’s effectiveness.  This awareness comes from our communication both with the new leaders and the coach.  It is inexact but offers a fairly accurate impression.

Scheduling an “exit interview” is as simple as, “Hi Dave!  I’d love to hear about your experience with the new leaders over the last few weeks.  Can we get a cup of coffee?”

Note: We don’t call it an “exit interview” and the launch-phase coaches don’t think of it as that.  It is just a conversation.

Step Three

The essence of the conversation is two-fold:

  1. We want to find out how they felt about what they were doing.
  2. We want to thank them for helping.

Finding out how they felt about what they were doing is important because it is the test for fulfillment.  We should already know whether they were fruitful (see steps one and two).  We need to know whether they liked doing it or not.  That usually is as simple as, “Dave, how does it feel to know that 3 of the 4 groups you were coaching are going to continue?”

There are three ways the exit interview can go:

  1. If the launch-phase coach expresses fulfillment in the role (i.e., “it’s cool to know that my groups are continuing!), and if they were fruitful (i.e., their groups are continuing), we will affirm them for their role and invite them to consider continuing as a coach.
  2. If the launch-phase coach was fruitful but is indifferent about the role of a coach (i.e., less than fulfilled), we will simply thank them for helping and ask if we can call on them again in the future.
  3. If the launch-phase coach was ineffective we will simply thank them for helping and ask if we can call on them again in the future.

Note: We want to build a coaching structure with hundred-fold people who are both fruitful and fulfilled.  Nothing less.

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

It’s Not Too Late! Take Advantage of My 2015 Coaching Network

Have you thought about joining my 2015 Small Group Ministry Coaching Network?  It’s not too late, but you need to act pretty quickly.  I have only a few spots left!

A few important details:

Before you decide you can’t participate, make sure you know a few important details:

  • There are several payment plans: All you need to get started is a deposit.  You can spread the balance over 4 payments.
  • All calls are recorded: I record every coaching call and you’ll have access to the recordings to listen later (or share with your team).  It’s not essential to participate in the live call and many have to miss a call now and then.
  • Make the Las Vegas day a team experience: You can bring a team member along to the day in Las Vegas in March.
  • Take your ministry to the next level: Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned veteran, or anywhere in between, my coaching network helps take small group ministries to the next level.
  • Build a thriving small group ministry that fits your church’s needs.  There are several systems that could work.  Choose the model that fits your church.

Have questions you need answered before saying yes?  Email Me.

I really want to encourage you to join my 2015 Small Group Ministry Coaching Network; an experience designed to give you the tools and strategies you need in order to build a small group ministry that works in the 21st century.

Find out more and apply right here.

My 2014 Network has already had big results

Several of my 2014 alumni from quite a cross section of churches have already reported launching and sustaining record numbers of groups and connecting far more people than ever before.  I’d love to help you do the same thing!

Don’t take my word for it!

Here’s what three of my alumni had to say about the coaching network experience:

  • “I was a part of Mark’s Coaching Network and found it to be not only beneficial to helping me think outside the box, but also to hear from other pastors across the nation. If you are looking for a coaching network that will help you grow in your skills, sharpen your strategies, and guide you to take your next steps in small group ministry, make sure you sign-up for this coaching network!”  Jonathan Holcomb, LifeGroups and LifeMissions Pastor, LifeChurch.tv, South Tulsa
  • “I would highly recommend Mark Howell’s Small Group Ministry Coaching Network.  I had been studying small group strategies prior to joining the network and discovered I had all kinds of questions as to which was the best approach for our church.  Rather than try to figure it out all alone, the network was a tremendous resource for me personally as well as our church as we began to implement a small group system.  Mark did a great job encouraging, challenging, and resourcing us as we chose a model to help us identify and reach our ‘preferred future’.  My experience with Mark Howell’s Coaching Network was well worth my investment of time and finances.  It has had a profound and lasting effect on my perspective of small group ministry.”  Kem Stickl, Journey Groups Director, Whitehaven Road Baptist Church
  • “I joined Mark Howell’s coaching network because I needed to make several significant decisions in our church’s group ministry. Adding Mark’s experienced, strategic mind to our process for that season was super helpful. But the best part has been the relationship I’ve continued to build with Mark since the coaching network.”  Mark Riggins, Community Life Pastor, Bible Fellowship Church

Ready to join?

My 2015 Small Group Ministry Coaching Network begins in February and as of 1/12/15 I have 5 spots left. You can find out more and complete your application right here.

Still have questions?  Email Me for some quick answers.  I’m hoping you’ll come along!

5 Small Group Ministry Truths I Hold to Be Self Evident

declaration of independenceThere are certain things, certain ideas, that are just true.  This was the case for Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the United States of America (Jefferson maintained they were self-evident).  And it is true for small group ministry.

With over three decades of small group ministry experience, I have found certain truths to be self-evident.  In the words of Captain Jack Ross in a Few Good Men, “These are the facts, and they are undisputed.”

5 small group ministry truths that I hold to be self-evident:

  1. A small group provides the optimal environment for the life-change Jesus intends for every believer.”  Circles, not rows.  A classroom environment is good for information, but the wrong model for authentic transformation.  The power of a group, not one-on-one. So much is gained when exposed to a variety of gifts.  See also, Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
  2. “Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again.”  Time really is of the essence.  Next fall or even next season is never soon enough for some.  There is always a window closing on some unconnected people.  Therefore, postponing connection opportunities until leaders are identified, vetted and trained is a dangerous prerequisite.  See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?
  3. “Joining a group in a stranger’s living room is the second scariest move (preceded only by coming to church for the first time).”  An awareness of and empathy for unconnected people is essential if you want to build a thriving small group ministry.  What the usual suspects want or can tolerate is far from the point.  Appreciation for the point of view of unconnected people (i.e., what they are interested in and afraid of) is essential.  See also, The Second Greatest Fear of Unconnected People.
  4. “Whatever you want to happen at the member level will have to happen to the leader first.”  No matter where you set the leader bar, you must understand that the member experience is absolutely determined by the leader’s steadfast pursuit of full devotion.  That said, it follows that very few adults are self-motivated.  Almost all adults need a mentor.coach who can say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  Therefore, coaching is an essential ingredient for life-change.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.
  5. Your senior pastor as small group champion is essential in building a thriving small group ministry.  If there ever was an idea birthed in fantasy, it was that ordinary people would pursue something the most influential person is not modeling and championing.  See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #1: A Doubtful or Conflicted Senior Pastor.

These are 5 of the small group ministry truths I hold to be self-evident.  Are there more?  No doubt.  Still, I believe if you want to build a thriving small group ministry you will embrace these truths as well.

See also, Top 10 Axiomatic Beliefs of GroupLife, 7 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Strategy, and 10 Ideas that Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry.

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

Missional Living Resources You Should Know About

Every year I end up being sent well over a hundred new small group studies, church-wide campaigns and ministry books of all kinds.  It’s a great privilege to be asked to review them.

A few weeks ago I received a box with a collection of resources on missional living from a variety of publishers.  Over the past month I’ve been spending time with these books and I thought you’d like to know about them.  It’s a category that should be on our radar.

In the Gap: What Happens When God’s People Stand Strong is by Wilfredo De Jesus.  Included in Times 100 Most Influential People in the World, “Pastor Choco,” In The Gap looks at nine examples of courageous people in the scriptures–men and women who recognized “gap” situations and trusted God to use them to make a difference (from the cover).

life on mission willisLife on Mission: Joining the Everyday Mission of God is by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe.  New from Send North America and Moody Publishers, in Life on Mission Willis and Coe “explain biblical foundations and explore the practical implications for how God has designed your life to be a part of His purpose in the world (from the forward).”

field guide for everyday missionA Field Guide for Everyday Mission: 30 Days and 101 Ways to Demonstrate the Gospel is by Ben Connelly and Bob Roberts, Jr.  This is an interesting resource with contributions from Lance Ford, Rick McKinley, Mark Deymaz, Mary Demuth and Jeff Vanderstelt and a forward by Alan Hirsch.  A Field Guide for Everyday Mission answers some very important important questions in a very engaging way.

unstoppableUnstoppable: Running the Race You Were Born to Win by Christine Caine “enthralls us with true stories and eternal principles that inspire us to run the race of our lives, receiving the baton of faith in sync with our team, the body of Christ (from the cover).  You may have heard Christine Caine at a conference.  Unstoppable is a page turner.

flesh bringing the incarnation down to earthFlesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth by Hugh Halter is my favorite from a very good stack.  Its alternate subtitle: Learning to be human like Jesus is a better description of the content.  Halter does a very good job of integrating real life stories and examples with scripture.  You can read my full review right here.

Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like Jesus Does by Jon Weece is a powerful book that might have slipped under your radar.  The unusual name comes from an party “that Southland throws every year for the disabled, handicapped, and mentally ill.”  At the essence of Jesus Prom is the the powerful idea that the church is not a place you go but “a kind of community we are.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

How to Recruit a Small Group Coach: My “Secret” Formula

I’ve written a lot about the small group coaching.  If you’ve been along for very much of this conversation, you’ve seen articles about the importance of coaching and the role of a coach.  You’ve also seen articles how to identify the right candidates, the characteristics of an effective coach, and even how to develop and disciple coaches.

Today I want to share my preferred method of recruiting them.  It’s really not a “secret” formula, but the way I do it might be different than you’ve tried in your own effort.

Here’s how I recruit a small group coach:

Step One

Once I’ve identified a hundred-fold candidate (or a sixty-fold), I set up an opportunity to talk with them about an upcoming (or current need) in our small group ministry.  We’re always starting new groups or planning a small group launch of some kind and it’s easy to anticipate the need for additional coaches.

My invitation to talk is very general.  “David, I was thinking about something we’re about to do in our small group ministry and I thought about you.  Could we grab a cup of coffee this week?  When would be a good time for you?”

Note that I didn’t say anything specific, just that we’re about to do something and I thought about him.  Sometimes the candidate will ask for specifics.  When they do I’ll just share that we’re about to launch some new groups and there’s a way he could help us.

Step Two

When we meet for coffee, I’ll tell the candidate about the new groups we anticipate launching (or the ones we just launched).  “We’re holding a small group connection in mid-February and we’re expecting to launch around 20 to 30 new groups.”

Since the best candidates are usually small group leaders themselves, they will almost always remember how their group started and be interested in what you’re planning.

Step Three

Once I’ve shared a little about the upcoming small group launch I tell the candidate why I thought of them.

“One of the things we know about starting new small groups is that we sustain a much higher percentage of new groups when we’re able to give each new leader someone to walk alongside them for the first few weeks.  Someone who knows what they’re doing and has done it themselves.”

Note: All I’m talking about is the “first few weeks.”  This is very important.

I continue by saying, “We’ve seen you in action.  You do a great job leading your small group.  It’s obvious that you know what you’re doing.”

“Would you be willing to come alongside a couple new small group leaders and help them get started?  It would be about a 10 week commitment.  A couple weeks on the front end (before they actually begin), the six weeks of their first study, and a couple weeks on the back end to make sure their new group lands.”

Note: I’ve specified a 10 week commitment.

“It would probably take about an hour a week.  You won’t be going to their group.  Instead, I want you to connect with each new leader every week by phone or in person.  We’ll train you, there are four questions we’ll want you to ask that will steer your weekly contact.  Mostly, it’s just being available to check-in with each new leader once a week as they begin their new group.”

Note: I’ve specified the time commitment.  I’ve clarified a little of what I need them to do and also what it’s not about.

At this point I share a simple job description with them.

Step Four

I make the ask.  “How does that sound?  Are you interested in helping us start a couple new groups?”

The candidate will almost always have a few questions or want clarification.  They will usually want to pray about it or talk with a spouse.  Sometimes they’ll immediately say, “I’m in!  Thanks for thinking about me!”

I usually suggest that they take a day and pray about it or talk with their spouse.  And then make a commitment to call them the next day to confirm their interest.

Important Takeaways

There are a few important things to note about my “secret” formula.

  • I actually try to steer away from using the term “coach.”  I use the phrase “come alongside” very often.
  • I emphasize the short-term commitment.  Sometimes they will ask, “What happens after the 10 weeks?”  When they ask, I will usually say, “Sometimes it’s such a good match or a good experience that it leads to a longer term commitment.”
  • I emphasize the limited responsibilities each week.
  • I emphasize that there will be little bit of training.

An important thing to note is that I don’t really talk about what happens at the end of 10 weeks.  I’ll cover what happens then in a separate blog post.

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

 

 

Review: Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth by Hugh Halter

flesh bringing the incarnation down to earthSpent some time with a new book from Hugh Halter this week.  Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth is the latest book by Hugh Halter, lead pastor of Adullam and founder of Missio.

Flesh is best described by its alternate subtitle: Learning to be human like Jesus.  I loved this book!  Hugh Halter is the real deal, so immersed in the day-to-day living out of the incarnational mission that it becomes far more than theology or theory.  Every chapter is challenging with just a dash of scary–but so inspiring!  I came away (as I did with The Tangible Kingdom And: The Gathered and Scattered Church) with a deep sense that I had tripped across a rare and startling glimpse into the actual way forward into the 21st century.

Written in five sections, Flesh follows “the flow, timing, order, and process of how Jesus moved into the lives of people.  In short, incarnation leads to a good reputation, which leads to a conversation, which leads to a natural confrontation and then transformation.”

These pages are full of scripture references that light up what it must have been like to actually spend time with Jesus; watching Him interact with his followers.  It is eye-opening in many ways to look with fresh eyes at the between-the-lines action in some very familiar passages.

I’ve always been pulled in by Hugh’s generous helping of real life stories and examples.  Far beyond illustration, these personal stories both make the point and inspire courageous steps in a new direction.  In addition, every chapter concludes with a set of questions that will challenge and motivate those who take this journey.

I also really like Hugh’s encouragement to bring a few others along!  Flesh is the perfect book to distribute to a few with whom you’d like to journey.

If you’re looking for the doorway to missional living, please don’t miss Flesh!  I loved this book and I’m sure you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Yes, But What Do I Do First?

pick up sticksYou’re in, right? Ready to do the work that will take your small group ministry to new levels in 2015?  You’ve taken the time to write some new year’s resolutions and are beginning to figure out where you need to go.

But where do you start?  How do you figure out what must happen first?  Or does it matter where you start?

I call your dilemma “joining a game of pick up sticks in progress.”  I call it that because the truth is there really are some things that you must tackle before you can even get down to the issues you want to work on.

I believe in almost every church there are two primary issues that must be tackled at the same time.

First, if you believe that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again, then you are already certain you’ve got to find better and faster ways to connect more people.  Waiting until certain deeper issues are solved or waiting until certain capabilities are developed won’t make sense in light of your awareness that every unconnected person in your crowd has a closing window on their availability to connect.  See also, 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People and What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?

Believing this is true should prompt you to take seriously the urgency of connecting unconnected people.

It should also convince you to:

Second, if you believe that coaches play a key role in sustaining new groups and furthermore, that whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your groups must happen first in the lives of your leaders, then you already know you that identifying, recruiting and developing coaches must be an immediate priority.  See also, Life Change at the Member Level

Believing this is true should prompt you to take seriously the need to identify, recruit and develop coaches.

Aren’t there other important things that must be done to build a thriving small group ministry?  Yes!  But without a doubt these are the two most important things and they will not wait for a better season.  They must be done well and they must be done now.

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

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