But have you ever examined your small group ministry for signs of settling?
I believe there are some things we should never settle for.
4 Things Small Group Pastors Should Never Settle For
- Belonging without Becoming. In order for a group to truly be the optimum environment for life-change, something far beyond mere connection must take place. Unless we have some other plan for making disciples (and I believe the search for or the creation of an additional thing that makes disciples is almost always ineffective), the group must offer both belonging and becoming. If we’re not doing the right things TO and FOR our leaders and equipping them to design their group meetings for life-change we’ve settled. See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
- A static percentage connected. Every congregation has people that have a natural bent for community and connection. They will end up in groups despite ineffective small group strategies. They will end up in groups even when there is no system or strategy. Connecting beyond the usual suspects requires intentionality and effort. When your small group ministry struggles to increase the percentage connected beyond those with a natural bent, it is often a result of settling for what happens without intentionality and effort. See also, What Is Your Urgency Level for Connecting People? and 5 Symptoms of Healthy Small Group Ministries.
- Knowing without Becoming. In the sense of balancing the purposes, small groups naturally gravitate toward fellowship and discipleship and struggle with worship, ministry and evangelism. To be clear, few groups do much more together than gather to be together and learn something from a study they are studying. We’ve settled for imbalance when we’ve done nothing to help rebalance the purposes. See also, Balancing the Purposes.
- Hosts or facilitators but not leaders. It is not any great challenge to find people willing to open up their home and invite a few friends or even welcome in a group assembled by the church. It’s not much of a challenge to find people willing to facilitate a discussion (or at a minimum, watch a DVD and read the questions out loud). Finding the number of leaders needed to truly care for the members of their group is never easy. Once you conclude that life-change happens best in circles and it becomes your ambition to connect everyone in groups, developing and discipling leaders becomes an essential and never-ending activity. If you only launch groups when you have leaders in place (as opposed to hosts or facilitators), you’ve often settled for what can be found or discovered as opposed to developed or discipled. See also, How to Help a HOST Become a Small Group Leader and 4 Obsessions of Extraordinary Small Group Pastors.
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Image by Kerry Lannert