2 GroupLife Keys That Predict Sustainability

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What are the keys to sustaining the groups you launch?  Although there are many variables, I’ve found there are two that are often missed…and they are both easy to build in to every group in your system.  What are they?  Multiple facilitators and multiple locations (The idea for this article came from a survey I’m running right now.  If you haven’t completed it, you can do that right here).  Here’s what’s going on:

  • Multiple Facilitators: Nearly every group that begins will have a best facilitator.  When that person becomes the only facilitator the group is dependent on their presence.  If they are out of town or sick the group often misses a step.  If they move away…the group is almost always toast.  The key is to begin developing multiple facilitators from the beginning.
  • Multiple locations: In the same way, groups often settle on a best place to meet.  It may be the home that’s best set up for childcare.  It may be the most central location or the most comfortable.  It may even just be where the best snacks are produced.  No matter the reason, when a group can only meet in one location it becomes dependent on that one host.  If they’re out of town, are sick or move away…the group often dwindles or dies.

What can be done?  Obviously, there are some differences for new groups and existing groups.  Here they are:

New Group Strategies

First, launch new groups with an intentional plan for both keys.  Here are two ideas that I always include in my new leader orientation:

  1. Ask every new leader to identify and recruit a co-leader as their first assignment.  Regardless of the launching strategy, beginning with a co-leader allows every new group to begin with more than one facilitator (and more than one location).
  2. End the first or second meeting of new groups with a quick look at a calendar.  Ask members to sign up to share the load of bringing refreshments, hosting the meeting in their home, or taking a turn facilitating a sessions.

Existing Group Strategies

Second, although you may be tempted to leave well enough alone in your existing groups, they can still adjust their style and add these keys to sustainability.  Here’s how:

  1. Begin by measuring the number of groups that have more than one facilitator and meet in more than one location.  This becomes your baseline.
  2. Identify any groups that are dependent on a teacher (as opposed to a facilitator).  This one variable accounts for a large number of groups that are vulnerable.  A solution is to periodically introduce a church-wide curriculum using a format that is easier to facilitate.  Challenge the teacher to use these opportunities to develop members who can facilitate.
  3. Select a variety of recommended studies that are easily facilitated.  Look for studies that include easy-to-follow leader notes or are DVD-driven.
  4. Challenge your existing leader/facilitators to begin developing additional facilitators.  Encourage members to take a turn on an upcoming session (or even a section of an upcoming session, for example the icebreaker question or the prayer time).

Do you have questions you’d like answered?  Complete my brief survey and get into the action!  You can take it right here.

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