Most of us quickly recognize the signs that there is something wrong with the way our car’s engine sounds or feels. When our car dies at the stop light or backfires as we drop off our teenage daughter at school…we get it. There’s something wrong with the engine. We may not know what it is but we know it’s time for a tune up.
But do you know the signs your small group ministry is due for a tune up?
5 signs your small group ministry is due for a tune up:
- You never need to start new groups because there’s always room in your existing groups. This is a serious sign that your small group ministry needs a tune up. It’s a problem for two reasons. First, the hardest place for a new member to connect is in an existing group where relationships are already established. The easiest place for a new member to connect is in a group where everyone is new. Second, small group leaders (and members) of existing groups need to learn to “fish” for new members. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups and Great Question: How Do I Train Leaders to Add New Members?
- You’ve given up on build a coaching structure because none of your leaders want a coach anyway. While it’s true that established small group leaders will almost always reject the retroactive assignment of a coach, new and inexperienced small group leaders will almost always gladly accept a coach. Still, there are two things to keep in mind. First, the assignment of a coach is one of the most important steps to sustaining the new groups you launch. Second, while experienced small group leaders may not feel the need for “coaching” from a technique standpoint, we need to remember that whatever we want to happen in the lives of the members of our groups, must happen in the lives of the leaders first. If that is true, then finding a way to connect experienced leaders with a spiritual mentor is essential. See also, 5 Steps to Sustaining the New Groups You Launch and How to Implement Coaching for Existing Group Leaders.
- Your senior pastor mentions the importance of belonging in a small group once a year (on the same Sunday he promotes the other 132 ministries). If you hope to build a thriving small group ministry, you must have a senior pastor willing to be the champion. One of the most important duties of the champion is the constant reference to the importance of being in a small group. Preferring one ministry over another is not easy for many senior pastors. As long as your senior pastor promotes every ministry equally, it will be difficult for your connection and discipleship engine to run smoothly. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups and Small Group Ministry Roadblock #1: A Doubtful and Conflicted Senior Pastor.
- You’re spending way too much time selecting the perfect group for the 23 people who signed up to join a group. If you’re spending any significant time as matchmaker (or you’re asking another valuable member of your team to do it), your system desperately needs a tune up. First, even the best matchmaking attempts still add new members into already established relationships (where only the most extroverted fit in). Second, when the small group leader you’ve given the name to calls to invite the new members, they will almost always end up speaking to the spouse who didn’t sign up. Few strategies have results more discouraging than matchmaking. Far more effective to focus on launching new groups for new members. See also, 3 Strategies that Launch a Wave of New Groups and Top 10 Ways to Launch New Groups.
- You have trouble explaining the advantages of joining a small group (without hurting the feelings of Sunday school teachers, Paul/Timothy discipleship leaders, Precepts teachers, etc.). If your small group ministry is struggling with this issue, you’re not alone. This is a serious and a very common sign of trouble. Identifying the best way to help unconnected people take a step that leads to getting connected is the first step. Becoming comfortable with only promoting the best way is the second step. Both steps are essential. See also, A Smörgåsbord of Destinations vs Sequential and Tailored Next Steps.
Image by Sherry Wiesmann