Have you ever stopped to consider that there may be a design limit ceiling on your small group ministry? Are you familiar with the term? Think of a design limit as the maximum or optimum possibility of your system.
Four examples of design limits that are ceilings for small group ministries:
Example #1: You are committed to providing personal care for your small group leaders but you are trying to do it yourself. A design limit is the built-in reality that everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can take care of more than about 10. As you attempt to push past the design limit, stress fractures will eventually develop. Breaking through the barrier of the design limit will require a different strategy for caring for leaders. See also, Span of Care and How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.
Example #2: You have been using Free Market/Semester system and for the first two years it has worked well. Now entering your third year, keeping up with the catalog and recruiting enough leaders in advance to replace those who have opted to “take a break” is becoming more challenging every semester. A design limit is the built-in reality of the administrative work and the fact that it is keeping you from investing in leaders and coaches. Breaking through the barrier of the design limit will require a different strategy for launching new groups. See also, An Analysis of the Free Market Small Group System.
Example #3: You have set high entry requirements for group leaders (i.e., must be a member, must be a “tithing” member, must attend the 8 week new leader bootcamp, etc.) and are having difficulty finding enough leaders to connect the number of adults who want to join a group. A design limit is the built-in reality that the number of tithing members who will invest 8 weeks in the 8 week new leader bootcamp is a ceiling on the number of groups you can launch. Breaking through the barrier of the design limi will require a different strategy for recruiting new leaders. See also, Small Group Ministry Myth #4: High Leader Entry Requirements Ensure Safety in the Flock.
Example #4: You have placed high emphasis on every small group having an apprentice with the value that heathy groups grow and birth a new group every 12 to 18 months. A design limit is the built-in reality that less than 50% of groups will birth a new group. Breaking through the barrier of the design limit will require a different strategy to launch new groups. See also, 5 Keys to Launching New Groups. Lots of New Groups.
What are the design limits in your small group ministry system or strategy?
Doing the work of identifying the design limits that are affecting your small group ministry is very important. Turning a blind eye to design limits isn’t a winning strategy. Remember, the well-worn path never arrives at a new destination.
How can you identify the design limits of your system?
If you’ve been along for very long you know that I am a big fan of great questions. I got two questions that I’ve found very helpful from Gary Hamel’s The Future of Management (a great read).
- What 21st-century challenges are testing the design limits of our discipleship strategy?
- What are the limitations of our model that have failed to keep up with the times?
Need help? There is great power in the fresh eyes of a strategic outsider. Finding someone you trust from outside your organization who can look at your strategy with no emotional attachment can provide a much more honest evaluation. You can find out about my consulting and coaching services right here.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.