I have a friend who recently announced that it was time for changes in their small group ministry. They went on to say, everything except the semester system and free market model are “up in the air.” Continuing, “I think it’s healthy to re-examine everything you do regularly, but it didn’t take us long to acknowledge that these things are not broken and work well in our given environment. They are the two best things about our small group ministry.”
What do you think about that statement? Logical? Seems like the thing to do? Would you do that? Are you in the camp that says, “re-examine everything you do regularly and keep the best things?”
Here’s what the statement generated in me. First, a three part disclaimer.
- First, it is essential that you clarify what a win is for your small group ministry.
- Second, since there is no problem-free solution to anything and every solution has a set of problems that go with it, all you can do is choose the set of problems you’d rather have.
- Last, I’m not a huge fan of either the semester system or the free market model. Not that either concept is wrong. Just that I personally prefer the problems that go with another solution. Based on what I’ve determined a win is and the set of problems that accompany those ideas…I prefer a different model.
Disclaimer out of the way, my immediate thought on reading my friend’s statement was that the “assumptions that a team has held the longest or the most deeply are the most likely to be its undoing.” This chilling line is from a really helpful article over at HBR called When Growth Stalls by Matthew S. Olson, Derek van Bever, Seth Verry.
This line and the study were at least partially behind North Point’s decision to abandon both a weekly version of Kidstuff (their very cool program for kids and their parents) and 7:22 (their very well attended weeknight Singles’ worship experience). Both programs were very good, maybe not the best things they were doing, but very good. Well attended. Huge fan base. Discarded. Why? Because when North Point went back to examine the underlying assumptions that drove their commitment to those ideas…they realized that a change was needed.
I’ve been fascinated by their process, going back to Andy Stanley’s 2008 Drive talk called Random Thoughts on Leadership. Think about the willingness to ditch two programs that were so effective. Amazing. Ditching things that were working…but not in line with their current assumptions. I’ve written about it here, here and here. To top it off, the idea fit neatly alongside the Peter Drucker notion of purposeful abandonment. It’s not enough to get rid of what’s broken. True innovation comes when everything is on the table.
What does this all have to do with us? With you? With me? When we evaluate our small group ministries, what are the design elements that need to be closely examined? Is the strategy that we’re using really the right one? Or is it based on assumptions that are out of line with current realities? Out of line with ‘changes in the external environment.”
What does this have to do with all of us? For starters, we should probably all be putting everything on the table. As Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel said to Gordon Moore, “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? Why shouldn’t we walk out, come back in and do it ourselves?”
What do you need to evaluate? What do you need to change? What do you need to fix? The things that aren’t working? As Andy Stanley has said, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” Like what you’re getting? Keep it. Want the best results? Question the design.
Want do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.