We'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 a question a reader asked me recently. Their question was so obviously the wrong question that it caused to me to wonder why in the world they are doing what they're doing.
You can ask the wrong question, you know. Albert Einstein famously said,
"If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes."
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five… Click To Tweet
Identifying the right question is a critical skill. 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.
Early on I looked for problem-free strategies. Eventually I realized there are no problem-free strategies. Every strategy, system and model comes with a unique set of problems. 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 never being at our church again.
Every delay at connecting them puts many of them in jeopardy. Putting off the connecting opportunity in order to line up some timing issue increases the likelihood that for certain unconnected people the window will close. See also,What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
3. The optimal environment for life-change is a small group.
I know this. And you know this. That's why we believe small groups must be prioritized. Circles, not rows are where life-change happens. 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.
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. Click To Tweet
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.
I've long believed the first part of this assumption. The second part is a more recent add-on that is a critical understanding. 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. Coaching is only initially about teaching technique. It is primarily about doing TO and FOR the leaders whatever you want the leaders to do TO and FOR their members. 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?
Further reading on assumptions:
- 5 Assumptions That Stunt Small Group Ministry Growth
- 7 Assumptions That Shape My Small Group Strategy
- Ready to Go on an Assumption Hunt? (Great idea on how to do it from Gary Hamel).
- The Danger of Unexamined Assumptions
- Is It Time to Change Your Strategy
- Andy Stanley on Assumptions
- Testing Long-Held Assumptions