10 Simple Things You Can Start Doing to Build a Thriving Small Group Ministry

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While there is definitely a list of complicated things you can start doing to build a thriving small group ministry, there is a list of simple things you can start doing.

It’s important to remember that simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.  Easy is the opposite of hard or challenging.  Simple things are uncomplicated.  They can be done without a lot of prerequisite steps.  All of us have complicated things that need doing.  I call it “joining a game of pick-up-sticks in progress.”

What we’re talking about today are simple, uncomplicated, no excuses things you can start doing to build a thriving small group ministry.

Here are 10 simple things you can start doing:

  1. Invite your senior pastor to meet for breakfast, lunch or coffee.  If you have the relationship already, this will be easy.  If you don’t, you might have to develop a creative angle.  You can be your pastor’s source for life-change stories and you can help shape the belonging and becoming emphases, but only if you have the relationship.  See also, 6 Ways to Help Your Senior Pastor Make the Small Group Ask.
  2. Spend one hour shaping a grouplife calendar for 2015.  Where will you plug in your connecting events or strategies?  Where will you offer training and encouragement for your leaders?  Where will you invest in your coaches?  See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.
  3. Spend one hour thinking through your existing small group coaches.  Do you have the right people on your coaching team?  Are they fruitful and fulfilled?  Fulfilled but not fruitful?  Fruitful but not fulfilled?  Building an effective coaching structure requires getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus).  You may only be able to evaluate your coaches (without removing anyone).  That’s okay.  It is a start.  See also, Diagnosis: The Coaches in Your System.
  4. Spend one hour thinking through your existing group leaders.  Are there some sixty or hundred-fold leaders on your list who probably should be coaching?  One of the most powerful steps you can take in building a thriving small group ministry is to begin to build an effective coaching structure.  This simple exercise could be the very first step.  See Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns for a few ideas on how to do it.
  5. Spend one hour scheduling and planning a January coffee “get-together” for your small group leaders.  Make it simple and convenient.  Provide coffee, juice, donuts and fruit.  Pull together a few recommended studies for them to look over.  Choose a skill training idea to share.  Group them in a way that makes sense (life-stage, geography, affinity, etc.).  Give them something to talk about at their table.  See How to Implement Coaching for Existing Leaders for more ideas.
  6. Ask your small group leaders for their best story about life-change.  “What is the best thing happening in your group right now?” is a good question.  Email your leaders asking them to reply with their answer (or if you’re even a little bit tech savvy, create a Google survey).  This simple idea will pay huge dividends and give you plenty to talk about.
  7. Pick out a book to read or a study to do with your coaches.  If you’ve got the right people in the coaching role, you’ll want to spend time developing and discipling them.  Once you’ve chosen a book or a study, choose a morning that works for most and put it on the calendar.  Whether you meet once a month or even once a week for a season, it will be an investment with big returns.  See also, 7 Practices for Developing and Discipling Your Coaches.
  8. Join a Small Group Network huddle.  If you’re not already part of a huddle, you can find the best one for you right here.  If there’s not one in your area, consider starting your own!  It’s as easy as a quick phone call to have coffee with another small group pastor/director in your area.  You can do it and you’ll be glad you did.
  9. Meet with the leaders of any on-campus studies your church offers.  You can be a resource to the leaders of your church’s Beth Moore study, Men’s Fraternity, etc.  Offering to provide skill training for table leaders might be a simple first step that leads to helping them develop their own coaching structure for leaders.  And it will help establish you as their go to expert on how to deliver the best experience to members.  See also, Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.
  10. Spend an hour getting to know some unconnected people in your church.  A few minutes learning about the lives, families, schedules, interests, problems and concerns of unconnected people will help you develop first steps and next steps that are easy, obvious and strategic.  Until you actually know a few unconnected people you will pay too much attention to the interests of already connected people.  Preoccupied with the Needs and Interests of the Right People and Learn to Empathize with Your End User.

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

Image by badjonni

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