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Learn the 5 Secrets to a Big Start in 2013

As you probably know, the beginning of the year is the second best opportunity all year to launch more small groups and connect more people.  It’s such a good opportunity…but it’s a shame to see it wasted so often!

Want to learn the 5 Secrets to a Big (GroupLife) Start in 2013?

You’re invited!  Join me for a free 60 minute conference call on Thursday, November 29th at 1:00 p.m. PST.

I’ll be sharing the 5 Secrets to a Big Start in 2013.

You can RSVP by clicking right here

Dilbert on Reporting to Your Supervisor

Due for your next one on one with your supervisor?  Here’s a strategy:

The Ability to Say “NO”

Are you so committed to your direction that you’re saying “no” to the things that will take you even slightly off course?  One of the most important aspects of your ministry’s trajectory is its determination to say no to the things that will take it in an even slightly different direction.

It’s hard to recognize those moments when they’re in progress.  And it’s even harder to put your finger on the moment years later.  But all around us are organizations that began well, were really focused on their mission, had the finish line clearly in the crosshairs…and then for an instant loosened their grips on the steering wheel, only to find out later that their momentary lapse turned into a mistep that led to a series of compromises and suddenly a completely different trajectory.

It’s the awareness of compromise that must be cultivated.  Don’t you love this BMW ad?

Nobmwsmall_1  “The ability to say no to compromise is a rare thing these days. Many companies would like to be able to say it, but so few have the autonomy to actually do it.  As an independent company, BMW can say no. No, we will not compromise our ideas. No, we will not do it the way everyone else does it.”

You’ve got to love it!  Thanks to Signals vs. Noise for the link to the ad!

For more on trajectory, check out Learning from Non-Customers

The One Thing Every Small Group Pastor Must Do…for Small Group Leaders

one thingRecently my friend Rick Howerton posted an article praising Egli and Marable’s research based, Small Groups Big Impact.  Among other principles, Rick referred to a powerful discovery made by Egli and Marable:

“The practice that impacts the health and growth of a small group the most is the prayer life of the leader (p. 23).”

I have that line underlined in my copy of the book, too.  Very powerful statement.  Maybe a no-brainer to you.  Maybe an aha moment.  Either way…a powerful statement.

The Problem

Only one problem.  Do you see it?  Here it is:  How many of your small group leaders actually want to have the kind of prayer life that impacts the members of their small group?

Can you be 100% honest with yourself for a moment?  Here’s the question again: How many of your small group leaders actually want to have the kind of prayer life that impacts the members of their small group?

I don’t know about you, but in my experience very few leaders are preoccupied by the desire to have that kind of prayer life.  Oh, they may have a passing thought now and then (like when their pastor casts that vision).

They’re rarely preoccupied by that thought.  But they need to be if they’re going to have that kind of impact on their members.

The Solution

If you want your small group leaders to be preoccupied by the desire to develop that kind of prayer life, you need to come to a very important conclusion.  Here it is:

Whatever you want to happen in the lives of your members…has to happen first in the lives of your leaders. [click to tweet].

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re prayed for by their leader?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re truly known?  Where they’re way more than a face in the crowd or an acquaintance?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

Want group members to experience grouplife where they’re truly cared for, loved, held accountable, encouraged, and forgiven?  Somehow the leader has to experience it first.

How Will This Happen?

The size of your small group ministry will determine how this happens.  Carl George was right when he said, “Everyone needs to be cared for by someone but no one can care for more than (about) ten.”

What does that have to do with helping your leaders become preoccupied with the desire to develop this kind of prayer life?  If you want your members to experience all of the good things that grouplife brings…your leaders must experience the good things first.  How will that happen?  It begins with you investing in your small group leaders.  If you have more than ten leaders, it begins with you investing in your coaches.  If you have more than five coaches…  See also, 7 Practices for Developing and Discipling Your Coaches.

What do you think?  Does your small group ministry operate this way?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Peter Thoeny

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 Relay Race Called “The Ministry Year”

In the fastest growing ministries and churches…everything is connected.  Everything is a step in the direction of the preferred future.  Everything.

There are no one offs.  There is no sideways energy.  Everything is connected.

Here’s what I mean.

Step One: Easter at Saddleback, North Point, Woodlands Church, Bayside, etc. will include an opportunity to make a commitment to Christ.  Might be filling out a card.  Might be stopping at the “I Raised My Hand” table right after the service.  Doesn’t matter.  It will be easy, obvious and strategic.

Step Two: Everyone in the Easter service will hear “If you want to find out why we do what we do, we want to invite you to join us for 101 (or Starting Point, Belong 101, etc.).”  Note: the invitation is not to “our membership class.”  It’s to find out more or to take the next step.  And it will be two to four weeks away.

Step Three: At 101 they’ll hear the “plan of salvation” and be given an opportunity to respond (usually by indicating on a form).  There will also be a section of the class that covers the importance of baptism.  And they’ll be given an opportunity to indicate on the form that they’d like to be baptized (or that they’ve already been baptized).  In addition, a large baptism will be on the calendar in the next 30 to 60 days.

Step Four: Two to three weeks prior to the baptism event, a weekend message will include an opportunity to sign up to be baptized.

How close does that sound to your church or your ministry?  The degree to which everything is a clear handoff to a next step determines ministry effectiveness.

What do you think?  Does your church or ministry operate this way?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do

Had a chance this weekend to review Undaunted, a new DVD-driven study featuring Christine Caine.  If you’re unfamiliar with Caine, she’s a popular speaker (her Catalyst sessions have been highly rated) and the co-founder of the A21 Campaign, an organization dedicated to provide help, hope and healing to victims of human trafficking.

Designed to be used in combination with her book by the same title, Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do is a five week study offering life-transforming insights about how to overcome the challenges of life and become equipped and empowered to help others.

DVD-driven, the sessions are quite compelling and very engaging.  At an average length of 15 to 17 minutes, they grab your attention right away and never let go.

Caine masterfully uses her own story to craft a compelling and impactful study; Discovering her adoption as an adult, she wrestled with her circumstances and realized how God rescued her from  a life where she was unnamed, unwanted, and unqualified.  A Bible teacher with a passionate and purposeful delivery, her sense of urgency is always present.

The study guide offers a well designed group experience.  Every session includes a thought-provoking icebreaker, a note taking section for use with the video, a set of discussion questions that guide the discussion, a personal reflection exercise, and a between sessions exercise.  When used with her companion book, the study will provide a rich five week experience.

Undaunted is a promise-driven study that will help ground your group in the assurances of God’s word, His unfailing love for us, and His calling on our lives.  If you’re looking for a study that will help group members discover the real purpose of their lives, I highly recommend Undaunted.

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. In addition, Zondervan is a regular sponsor here at MarkHowellLive.com. 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.”

Ingredients of a 21st Century Web Solution for Small Group Ministry

No matter where I go, everyone is asking the same question:  where can we find a fully-functioning 21st century web solution for groups?

I’ve decided that most web solutions for groups are incomplete.  That is, regardless of whether they can be described as a church management software (a bundled solution that handles database, check-in, financials, reports, etc.) or a stand-alone 3rd party application for small groups that integrates with a church management software (CMS), they typically satisfy only some of the needs of a small group ministry.

In my experience, the most common players are ChurchTeams, FellowshipOne, Shelby, and Arena.  While there are other systems, they seem to play a less significant role.

I’ve used them all.  I like aspects of several of them.  And I’ve discovered that most of them are missing essential ingredients in order to qualify as a 21st century solution.  What are the essential ingredients?

Here are mine:

  1. Allow unconnected people to easily find a group that fits their needs 24/7.  They shouldn’t have to log in (or create a log-in) to see what it available.  They should be able to filter for groups that fit their needs (i.e., they shouldn’t have to choose from a randomly list of every group).
  2. Upon selecting a group, every unconnected person ought to be able to expect contact within 24 hours by phone or email from the group leader.
  3. Once connected, leaders ought to be able to add new members to their rosters, changing the status of prospects to members.  It ought to be easy to do.  There shouldn’t have to be a middleman.
  4. Make it easy for leaders to use the system in order to track attendance, record prayer requests, communicate with their coach, etc.
  5. Community Leaders ought to be able to see at a glance whether leaders are following up on prospects.
  6. A weekly (or monthly) status report ought to be generated to flag any issues.

What do you think?  Does your system do these things?  Have something else on your wishlist?  Have a solution you love? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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. In addition, ChurchTeams is a regular sponsor here at MarkHowellLive.com. 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.”

Top 10 Posts of October, 2012

Did you miss a day or two?  Here are my top 10 posts of October, 2012.  Actually, I included the Opportunities page, a new feature here on the blog which lists the available positions I know of around the country.

  1. New from Beth Moore: The Law of Love: Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy (August, 2012)
  2. How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection (May, 2008)
  3. Opportunities (October, 2012)
  4. Skill Training: Equip Leaders to Help Members Plan to Grow (January, 2010)
  5. 10 Essential Small Group Leader Skills (June, 2010)
  6. Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship  (September, 2012)
  7. Don’t Miss Shallow Small Group 2: Asking the Right Questions (October, 2012)
  8. 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups (October, 2008)
  9. How to Choose a Small Group System or Strategy (October, 2009)
  10. 5 Essential Practices of a 21st Century Small Group System (September, 2012)
  11. The Meta Church Model (October, 2009)

Budgeting for the Preferred Future

I’ve written about arriving at the preferred future a number of times.  My most requested talk features this concept.

The essence of the concept?  The present can be explained by an understanding of Andy Stanley’s insightful one-liner: “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re currently experiencing.”

The probable future can be anticipated.  As Albert Einstein famously declared, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Want to arrive in the preferred future?  Don’t want to end up in the probable future?  You must begin to do different things.

What makes the new trajectory possible?  Among other things, budget reallocation.  Budget is a zero sum reality.  It must be allocated to the critical growth path.

How does that happen?  Peter Drucker’s wisdom is enlightening:

“Innovating organizations spend neither time nor resources on defending yesterday.  Systematic abandonment of yesterday alone can free the resources, and especially the scarcest of them all, capable people, for work on the new.”

Scarily efficient.  Not an endeavor undertaken lightly.  Which is why Carl George’s line is so compelling: “Leaders allocate the finite resources to the critical growth path.”

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

GroupLife in the 23rd Century

Can’t see the video? You can watch it right here.

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