Recently I was in a room full of some very experienced, very sharp minds when it comes to starting new groups*.  Admittedly, they were attempting to use the word groups to characterize both on-campus Sunday school classes and off-campus small groups.

At one point, a panel of four experts talked about their own personal experiences in starting groups.  Imagine my consternation as I listened to their stories of starting one new group last year.  One.  Another expert talked about starting a new group every year for the last several.  I’m not making this up.

It was a very frustrating  experience.  Honestly, it was fascinating and frustrating at the same time.  I found myself equally fascinated by some of their conclusions and frustrated by some of those same conclusions.

At one point, the moderator asked everyone to take a few minutes and share with those around you “what you think are the biggest obstacles in the way of starting groups.”  Again, it was frustrating and fascinating.

The Biggest Obstacles:

Keeping in mind that my answers describe the biggest obstacles standing in the way of both on-campus and off-campus efforts, here’s what I’ve got:

  • The misplaced priority given to on-campus strategies.  The most influential people need to become location agnostic.  Why?  I’ve long believed that adults not currently in an on-campus experience are unlikely to add another 60 to 75 minutes and unchurched adults are extremely unlikely to embrace a three hour Sunday morning.  I often note how common it is for most of us to watch a 60 minute program in 42 minutes (DVR).
  • The insistence that the best leaders have résumés.  As long as we pursue the notion that leading a group has anything to do with experience…we’re going to have a hard time overcoming this obstacle.
  • The illusion of knowledge.  The sense that we’ve figured out how to do it, that we know best, is a massive obstacle.  The only way to break through is to admit that the very best ways to launch new groups hasn’t yet been discovered.
  • The lure of the status quo.  This is the way we do it here.  This is how groups happen here.  We are a Sunday school church.  We are a small group church.  Unless we can break free from the shackles of the status quo…we will not be able to beat this one.

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

Image by SteFou

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