Yesterday I wrote about 5 totally obvious reasons small group ministries fail. Today I want to focus on 5 obscure but critically important reasons small group ministries fail. Not as obvious. Just as real.
5 Obscure but Important Reasons Small Group Ministries Fail
- Someone other than the senior pastor is operating as the small group champion. If you’ve been along for any length of time, this may not be an obscure idea to you. But, a very common reason (but somehow below the radar) that small group ministries fail is that senior pastors insist on delegating the champion role. When that happens, they doom the small group ministry to also-ran impact. See also, 5 Things Every Small Group Pastor Needs to Know on Day 1 and Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.
- Small group participation acquires the extra-curricular label. In order for small group ministry to succeed it must be seen as an essential ingredient. This is different than offering small group ministry as one of several ways to get connected and grow in Christ. When grouplife lands in the category of extra-curricular it ceases to be understood as essential. If you believe life-change happens in circles, you must guard at all costs against the idea that the weekend service is enough and small group participation is extra (even a nice extra). See also, 5 Essential Practices of a 21st Century Small Group Ministry.
- Limiting the “leader” role to the usual suspects. If you’ve set your small group leader pathway to require participation as a member first, then as an apprentice (or at least a person of interest), you are missing out on what might actually be the largest pool of potential leaders at your church. See also, 5 Blatantly Obvious Truths about Launching New Groups.
- Designing groups for fellowship and hoping for life-change. Your ministry really is designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If it is designed to produce fellowship (or it is actually producing fellowship), it is no doubt designed to do that. If you want something different, you will have to change the design. See also, Small Group Ministry Myth #2: Effective at Connecting but Not at Discipling.
- Mix and match strategy designed by the already convinced for the unconvinced. In the same way experienced Xbox or Playstation gamers can have trouble remembering when they first began to play, small group veterans (who sometimes clamor for a “deeper” or “more meaty” study) often struggle greatly to remember how it was for them when they began. Allowing the already convinced to choose the next study or determine the minimum recommended dose is a recipe for failure. See also, Design Your Connection Strategy with Unconnected People in Mind and 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People.
If your small group ministry is struggling, you need to spend some time wrestling with why. It is not a fluke. The reason it is struggling may be totally obvious or somewhat obscure. Either way…good stewards of the opportunity will search for the reason.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.