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5 Things to Do in January to Connect More People in 2017

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5 Things to Do in January to Connect More People in 2017

Want to connect more people in 2017? There are a few things you can do now to exponentially increase the number you connect.

Here are 5 things to do:

  1. Plan a connecting event in late January. If you run the event on January 29th, you’ll have several weeks to promote it. Use a strategy like a small group connection in order to launch the maximum number of new groups. Small group fairs or other events that add members to existing groups are better than nothing, but don’t come anywhere near connecting the largest number of people for the year. See also, How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection and Here’s How I Lead a Small Group Connection.
  2. Think strategically about the placement of your 101 class. If your 101 class is designed to offer a short list of next steps and you’ve slotted your connection event to follow a week or two later, you have an easy and effective one-two step that leads to more people connected.  At Canyon Ridge we have a 60 minute experience called NEXT that is offered about every 6 weeks. The three next steps that are promoted during NEXT are baptism, an upcoming small group connection (1 or 2 weeks after), and signing up for a back-stage tour designed to expose unconnected people to serving opportunities. See also, How to Design Next Steps and First Steps.
  3. Review your calendar of connecting opportunities for 2016 and make sure you’re offering a well-timed selection. We build in an annual church-wide campaign every fall. We also schedule at least two other major small group connections and one or two opportunities to choose from a strategically selected set of on-campus group experiences that lead to off-campus groups. In all, we try to always have an upcoming opportunity that will connect people who have attended NEXT. See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.
  4. Choose a church-wide campaign for the fall ministry season and begin the planning process for it. The right church-wide campaign run the right way will maximize the number of people connected in new groups. Although a church-wide campaign may fit on the calendar in other seasons, the fall is the best time. See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.
  5. Take a serious look at offering at least one 6 week on-campus experience that leads to an off-campus group. What we call a Short Term group, offers a smartly selected topic that will appeal to unconnected people. For example, we use Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage to draw unconnected married couples. They’re seated intentionally with other unconnected couples like them (we actually segregate any couples who are already in groups to their own tables). The material almost leads itself but the most natural leaders always emerges by the 3rd week. In week 5 we begin suggesting that if they’d like to continue to meet together off-campus, we’d like to help them. See also, Take Advantage of This Short-Term On-Campus Strategy.

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

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Image by Emma Kate

I’ve Just Added Two New Assumptions to My List of Assumptions

10-assumptions-that-shape-my-small-group-ministry-strategyWe’ve talked many times about assumptions. If you’ve been along for much of this adventure, you’ve probably read more than your share of articles on assumptions. If the idea of assumptions is unfamiliar to you, I’ve linked to a few of my favorites below.

I’m thinking about my assumptions about small group ministry today because of an email I received from a reader yesterday. Their question in the email was so obviously the wrong question that it caused to me to wonder why in the world they are doing what they’re doing. And that caused me to reflect on my assumptions.

Here is a list of my assumptions (about small group ministry):

  1. There is no problem-free solution.  Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.  See also, The Pursuit of Problem-Free.
  2. Unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at our church.  Every delay at connecting them puts many of them in jeopardy.  See also,What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
  3. The optimal environment for life-change is a small group.  Circles, not rows.  See also, Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
  4. Joining a group in a stranger’s living room is the second scariest move (preceded only by coming to church for the first time).  This makes a safe and familiar on-campus first step out of the auditorium a key to connecting people.  See also, How to Calm an Unconnected Person’s Second Greatest Fear.
  5. The people with the most connections inside the church have the fewest connections outside the church. Conversely, the people with the least connections inside the church have the most connections outside the church. This is an understanding that makes HOST a great idea. See also, Exponential Outreach.
  6. Every group of ten has a relative shepherd (and most adults can quickly identify the person they’d be willing to follow). In a Malcolm Gladwell sense, everyone can see very quickly who the leader should be. See also, How to Connect People No One Else is Connecting.
  7. The leader of a group only needs to be a step or two ahead of group members. Even Jesus didn’t look for Jesus Jr.  See also, Top 5 Signs Your Church Really Wants to Be a Church OF Groups.
  8. *I need to make it as easy as possible to begin “leading” and nearly automatic that the new “leader” step onto the leadership development conveyor belt. See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Development Pathway.
  9. Whatever we want the members of a group to experience, the leader has to experience first.  This makes coaching or mentoring an essential ingredient for any small group strategy.  See also, The End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure.
  10. *Prioritizing the launch of new groups connects the largest number of unconnected people. Prioritizing the needs of existing groups connects the fewest unconnected people. See also, Are You Prioritizing the Launch of New Groups?

What question was so obviously the wrong question?

The essence of the question was, “Have you written anything on how to best connect people with (existing) leaders? One of my greatest issues right now is connecting people on a Sunday with (existing) leaders.”
What makes that the wrong question? Easy. Emphasizing connecting unconnected people with existing leaders (who already have groups), leads to connecting the fewest unconnected people. Prioritizing the launch of new groups (via a small group connection,  GroupLink, etc.) leads to the connecting the largest number of unconnected people.
*New assumptions to the list.
What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Further reading on assumptions:

 

Happy New Year! Now Let’s Get 2017 Started!

happy-new-yearOkay, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it’s been way too long since we talked about your plans for 2017!

You have plans right? Can I help you develop them?

Or maybe you’ve been saying for weeks, “I need to get my plans for 2017 (or at the very least, January and February) finalized!”

Can I help you with that?

I can, you know. Help with that.

Here are a few ways I might be able to help you:

Sign up for 31 Days to a Better Small Group Ministry

Sign up for 31 Days to a Better Small Group Ministry: my FREE 31 day program designed to help you get the right things done. Designed to guide you day by day through the steps that will help you get done what you’ve been putting off. Or have been reluctant to move on because you were uncertain.

31 Days to a Better Small Group Ministry is open, but there are limited seats. Once it’s full…it’s full. But you can sign up right here.

Can I suggest a few goals to think about?  Here are five possibilities:

How are you stewarding your responsibility?

It’s not always popular…but this is the way I think. And I’m pretty sure it is the right way to think about what we do.

When I read Matthew 25 (the Parable of the Talents), I am very confident that one of Jesus’ points is that we’ve each been given something to steward “according to our abilities” and we’re expected to steward it well. As a small group ministry point person, I interpret that to mean that I’ve been entrusted with investing the time and talents of coaches (leaders of leaders) and the leaders they care for.

I’m not sure about you, but for me I take this stewardship seriously. I really hope you do too.

Because I believe this is the right interpretation, I feel compelled to manage the investment well! After all…I really want to hear “well done” at the end of the game.

And as a result, as I come to the end of the year, I’m thinking about next year. I’m thinking about how I might improve what I’m doing.

Is that you?

If it is, I want to suggest a few things you might want to consider as 2017 begins:

  1. You might consider signing up for my new FREE email course, 31 Days to a Better Small Group Ministry. I think this will really help a lot of people steward their responsibility/opportunity more effectively.
  2. You may want to consider attending GroupLife Southwest 2017. I can guarantee you this conference will expose you (and maybe some from your team) to some of the best ideas for small group ministry in the 21st century. You can take advantage of the Early Bird registration through February 27th. You can read about it right here.
  3. You might want to consider joining my 2017 coaching network. Every year I invest 6 months in a small cohort of small group pastors and directors. Limited to 12 members, this is an excellent way to reach your goals. You can read about my coaching network right here. Believe it or not, you can still apply and get an excellent rate.
  4. You might want to set up a coaching call (or a series of calls) to help you get from where you are to where you want to be (from your present to your preferred future). My coaching call packages can be tailored to fit your need.
  5. Need to build an effective coaching structure? Train new coaches? Go back to the drawing board and design your ministry to do things it can’t currently do? Jumpstart January? Maybe one of my mini-courses is just the thing to help you be a good steward of the opportunity.  You can find out about my growing list of tutorials, designed to allow you to move at your own pace and include other members of your team! You can find out about my mini-courses right here.

Listen, I don’t really know what the solution is for you and for your needs. I do know you’ve been entrusted with a stewardship. And I’m pretty sure you want to do a good job.

If I can help you…I’d love to!

Image by Leigh Wolf

Friday’s List | December 30th

Every Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

The Best Business Books I Read in 2016 via Michael Hyatt.

9 Brutal Questions for Any CEO to Answer in 2017 by Bryan Miles on Brian K. Dodd’s blog.

Leadership Network Top 10 Articles of 2016 by Leadership Network.

10 Things that Demonstrate the World You Grew Up in No Longer Exists by Carey Nieuwhof. Must Read!

5 Reasons Your New Year’s Resolutions Usually Fail by Carey Nieuwhof. Very timely.

Beyond the E-Myth: The Evolution of an Enterprise: From a company of 1 to a company of 1000 by Michael E. Gerber. When you listen to Rick Warren or Andy Stanley, they will tell you about the role Michael Gerber’s E-Myth played in their organizational thinking. This is Gerber’s latest version (and it’s on sale for $1.99 in the Kindle!).

Here’s what I’m listening to:

4 Questions to Help You Start Your Year Right by Todd Henry. Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative Podcast is on my regular list to listen to.

Louie Giglio on Preaching that Connects with Today’s Young Adults by Carey Nieuwhof. So good! This episode was so rich and so personally gripping.

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“My goal in life is to walk with Jesus. Not to work for Jesus, but to walk with Jesus.” Louie Giglio

App I’m using:

I’m committed this year to increasing my effectiveness. Nozbe is a leading productivity app. First heard about it from Michael Hyatt. It’s already making a big difference.

My own post I hope you’re reading:

Top 10 Articles on Identifying and Recruiting New Small Group Leaders. I came across this one as I was choosing my favorite articles from 2016. With over 2000 articles on MarkHowellLive.com, it’s fun to assemble a collection and this is a pretty good collection!

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Best Posts of 2016 (Fourth Quarter)

best-posts-of-2016-q4A LOT happened on MarkHowellLive.com in 2016. I published over 250 articles on small group ministry, connecting people, making disciples, identifying, recruiting and developing coaches, curriculum reviews, etc.

A lot happened.

Looking back over the year, I thought it might be helpful to identify the best posts of 2016 by quarter. With over 250 articles it seemed pretty tough to narrow it all the way down to the top 10 of the year.

Looking for a great small group ministry conference in 2017? Don’t miss GroupLife Southwest ’17, March 27-28. Featuring a powerful lineup of trusted small group ministry experts and leading practitioners, GroupLife Southwest ’17 promises to help you build a thriving small group ministry. Click here to take a look!

I’ve worked my way through my posts from October to December, 2016, and chosen what I think are the 10 most important posts. I looked at the number of pageviews and time spent on the post and those things were certainly factors in my selection. I also looked at reader interaction (both with me and also sharing).

  1. How to Launch New Groups with a Small Group Connection – 2016 (October)
  2. Top 10 Reasons My Church Has a Long Way to Go (in small group ministry) (October)
  3. How Do We Help a New Host* Get Off to a Great Start? (October)
  4. FAQ: How to Budget for a Thriving Small Group Ministry (October)
  5. Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups (November)
  6. Four Counter-Intuitive Truths about Finding New Leaders (November)
  7. How to Take the Pulse of Your Small Group Ministry (November)
  8. Trending Now? “Come Over” vs “Meet Me” or “Come With Me” (December)
  9. 5 Questions to Ask as 2016 Comes to a Close (December)
  10. Top 10 Articles on Identifying and Recruiting New Small Group Leaders (December)

Miss my list of the best posts from the third quarter? You can see it right here.

Best Posts of 2016 (Third Quarter)

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A LOT happened on MarkHowellLive.com in 2016. I published over 250 articles on small group ministry, connecting people, making disciples, identifying, recruiting and developing coaches, curriculum reviews, etc.

A lot happened.

Looking back over the year, I thought it might be helpful to identify the best posts of 2016 by quarter. With over 250 articles it seemed pretty tough to narrow it all the way down to the top 10 of the year.

I’ve worked my way through my posts from July through September, 2016, and chosen what I think are the 10 most important posts. I looked at the number of pageviews and time spent on the post and those things were certainly factors in my selection. I also looked at reader interaction (both with me and also sharing).

  1. Ten Worst Small Group Ministry Decisions…Ever (July)
  2. Has Blindspot #1 Limited Your Small Group Ministry? (July)
  3. The Future of Small Group Ministry (July)
  4. Are You Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry? (July)
  5. Test-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-Water (August)
  6. 7 Traits of Healthy Small Group Ministries (August)
  7. How Discipleship Really Happens (August)
  8. The True Measure of “Effective” Small Group Ministry Systems, Models, and Strategies (September)
  9. Top 10 Reasons North Point Has Connected Over 72,000* in Groups (September)
  10. Top 10 Reasons North Coast Has Consistently Connected Over 80% (September)

You can see my Most Popular Posts of 2016 (Fourth Quarter) right here.

Miss my list for 2016 Second Quarter? You can check it out here.

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Best Posts of 2016 (Second Quarter)

best-posts-of-2016-q2A LOT happened on MarkHowellLive.com in 2016. I published over 250 articles on small group ministry, connecting people, making disciples, identifying, recruiting and developing coaches, curriculum reviews, etc.

A lot happened.

Looking back over the year, I thought it might be helpful to identify the best posts of 2016 by quarter. With over 250 articles it seemed pretty tough to narrow it all the way down to the top 10 of the year.

I’ve worked my way through my posts from April through June, 2016, and chosen what I think are the 10 most important posts. I looked at the number of pageviews and time spent on the post and those things were certainly factors in my selection. I also looked at reader interaction (both with me and also sharing).

April through June, 2016

  1. 5 Stupid Things Churches Need to Stop Doing (in the name of small group ministry) (April)
  2. Top 10 Reasons Your Small Group Ministry Is Tanking (April)
  3. 4 Things Small Group Pastors Should Never Settle For (April)
  4. Books that Have Shaped My Thinking (April)
  5. How Are You Training Leaders These Days? (May)
  6. The Best Training for Small Group Leaders (May)
  7. Training Leaders to Engage Culture (re:group Day 2) (May)
  8. Is It Time for a Small Group Ministry Checkup? (June)
  9. How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar – 2016 (June)
  10. How to Manage the 5 Tensions of Connection (June)

You can see my Most Popular Posts of 2016 (Third Quarter) right here.

Miss my list for 2016 First Quarter? You can check it out here.

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2016’s Most Popular Posts (First Quarter)

best-posts-of-2016A LOT happened on MarkHowellLive.com in 2016. I published over 250 articles on small group ministry, connecting people, making disciples, identifying, recruiting and developing coaches, curriculum reviews, etc.

A lot happened.

Looking back over the year, I thought it might be helpful to identify the best posts of 2016 by quarter. With over 250 articles it seemed pretty tough to narrow it all the way down to the top 10 of the year.

I’ve worked my way through my posts from January through March, 2016, and chosen what I think are the 10 most important posts. I looked at the number of pageviews and time spent on the post and those things were certainly factors in my selection. I also looked at reader interaction (both with me and also sharing).

Best Posts of 2016 (First Quarter)

  1. 5 Things that Used to Work in Small Group Ministry (January)
  2. 5 Keys to Arriving at Your Preferred Future (January)
  3. 7 Tips that Will Help Optimize Your Small Group Ministry (January)
  4. 5 Things that Keep Me Up at Night (February)
  5. 4 Essential Skills Most New Small Group Pastors Need to Develop (February)
  6. 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Coach (February)
  7. 5 Tiny Language Tweaks that Make a Very Big Difference (March)
  8. 5 Things I Wish I Could Say to Your Senior Pastor (March)
  9. How an Effective Small Group Pastor Structures Their Calendar (March)
  10. 5 Subtle Differences between Thriving and Struggling Small Group Ministries (March)

Click here for my Most Popular Posts of 2016 (Second Quarter)

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Friday’s List | December 23

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite awhile. I’m asked for recommendations all the time. I’ll be posting a short list every Friday.

Here are the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

20 Things Leaders Need To Be Thinking In 2017 via Brian K. Dodd.

Beyond the Mug: Connecting with Guests Coming in Your Front Door by Tony Morgan. Great thinking in this article. Ought to be required reading.

Small Groups Can Be the Front Door of Your Church by Tony Morgan. Great take on an important idea.

My 2016 Best Books List by Jenni Catron. Great list and some interesting books.

The Two Most Powerful Words for Reaching Your Goals by Michael Hyatt.

Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways by Bill Taylor,  This is a read and then read again kind of book.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

All Things Leadership with Simon Sinek on The Catalyst Podcast. This is a very good conversation.

Angela Duckworth – Grit on the Bregman Leadership Podcast. Whether you’ve read Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance or not, this is a very good conversation.

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“Most of us live our lives by accident – we live it as it happens. Fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose.” Simon Sinek

App I’m using:

I’m committed this year to increasing my effectiveness. Nozbe is a leading productivity app. First heard about it from Michael Hyatt. It’s already making a big difference.

My own post I hope you’re reading:

My 2016 Christmas Reading List. Every year I create a list of books I think you should read.  Sometimes the books I include are very purely about small group ministry, discipleship, spiritual formation or leadership.  Other times, the books I include may seem pretty far afield (innovation, design, leadership, or strategy).  You’ll just have to trust me.  I wouldn’t include a book I didn’t think would be added to your toolbox and contribute in a trajectory-altering way.

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designer“Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Herbert Simon

You can read more from my Quotebook right here.

Image by Jesse Garcia

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