Apparently Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun. The issues and challenges we face have been faced before by many. Why do they feel like original and unique problems? I'm not sure. I do know this, when I talk with small group ministry point people, I find the same issues and challenges over and over.
See what you think. Recognize yours?
5 Clues that Reveal the Best Next Step for Your Small Group Ministry
1. Demand exceeds supply
We can't find enough leaders to absorb the number of people who want to join a group. If you have a stack of sign-up sheets and not enough leaders to satisfy the demand, one of two key issues are probably in the mix: (1) you have set the leader requirements too high, or, (2) you need to rethink the way you're recruiting leader candidates.
If you can't find enough leaders to satisfy the demand, one of two key issues are probably in the mix: (1) you have set the leader requirements too high, or, (2) you need to rethink the way you're recruiting leader candidates. Click To Tweet
This is a fairly common challenge. The solutions are so simple you will wonder why you didn't notice them before. God really has been sending workers to His harvest field. We often just don't spot them because we're looking for something different.
2. Treading water
Experienced group leaders drop out as fast as we add new group leaders. This is almost always a reflection of what I call a "balance of payments" issue. Leaders are investing blood, sweat and tears, and going season after season without anyone investing in them. Anything other than treading water will be extremely unlikely without the infusion of encouragement and care made possible via a mentoring or coaching relationship.
Our tendency is to believe group leaders are flighty and uncommitted. The truth is most of us have never really tried investing in leaders and we can't imagine the difference.
3. Participation levels are stuck
Percentage of adults in a small group vs adults attending our worship services is flatlined or decreasing. Percentage connected is very often an indication of an unseen barrier. Incremental change rarely offers the promise of breakthrough. Instead, if you want to break through a barrier it almost always requires an exponential shift.
The best ideas, the game-changing ideas, are almost never a simple improvement of what you are already doing. They are almost always a departure from what you're doing on a completely different track.
The best ideas, the game-changing ideas, are almost never a simple improvement of what you are already doing. They are almost always a departure from what you're doing on a completely different track. Click To Tweet
4. Can't connect beyond the usual suspects
Everyone you're connecting reflects the same maturity level. You're only connecting the congregation, committed and core (to use Saddleback's concentric circle metaphor) while the crowd and community are left out (the two largest circles).
Connecting beyond the usual suspects requires both a commitment to connecting unconnected people and a keen eye for their needs and interests.
Next Steps: Focus on gathering an understanding of your true customer.
5. We've tried that before
Of course, the other way to say it is "that doesn't work here." Let me just point out that it's much more commonly true that "that" hasn't been implemented correctly, whatever "that" is. Instead, an unreasonable facsimile is what's been attempted.
All of us have said, "that doesn't work here." And that includes me. What is needed is the recognition that fresh eyes and inexperienced eyes often see things that have been overlooked because of their familiarity. The fresh eyes of a strategic outsider will often reveal the simple details that make what didn't work before actually work extremely well.
Next Steps: Read Four Questions that Will Inspire Breakthrough Thinking and The Paradox of Expertise.
Having trouble building the right next steps, consider taking my newest mini-course: How to Design NEXT Steps and FIRST Steps!
Image by Timmy Gunz