5 Keys to a Great Start in 2018

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5 Keys to a Great Start in 2018

Does it feel like it was just 2016?

I don’t know about you, but 2017 is a blur! It feels like I was planning 2017 just yesterday!

Regardless of how it feels though, it is time to firm up plans for January/February and get going on some key initiatives for the rest of 2018.

Are you ready to get started?

Here’s what I think of as the keys to a great start (and a great year) in 2018.

5 Keys to a Great Start in 2018

If you’ve taken Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry, these keys will look very familiar. If you haven’t, you might want to pick up this course. It is also included in GroupLife Insider, my membership site.

Evaluate your present

Before you can intelligently begin planning the new year, it will benefit you greatly to spend some time evaluating how the last year went and specifically, where your ministry is right now.

Pulling together real numbers for certain aspects will help clarify the work to be done.

  • how many groups you have
  • how many groups were new in 2017
  • how many people in groups
  • how many people were newly connected in 2017
  • how many coaches are actively engaged
  • average adult weekend worship attendance

You might find the following articles helpful:

Evaluate  Your  Small  Group  Ministry  with  My  Signature  10  Point  Checklist

The First 7 Questions I Ask When Evaluating a Small Group Ministry

Declare your preferred future

If you’ve done this work in the past, this will be an easy step. If not, taking the time to begin describing what your groups ministry should look like in 5 to 10 years will help clarify what must be done to get from where you are to where you hope to be.

For example, if your preferred future includes having 100% of your adult weekend worship attendance in a group and you currently have 45%…you will quickly see the gap! You might not know how to best close the gap, but you will see the gap and that will inform your next steps.

If your preferred future includes having your group leaders being cared for and developed by a coach and coaches having a span of care of 1 to 5, and you currently have 25 group leaders and no coaches…you will quickly see the gap!

Further Reading:

Where Do You Want To Go with Your Small Group Ministry?

Set the milestone(s) that lead to your preferred future

When I’m explaining what a milestone is I like to describe a hike from a campsite to a distant mountain summit. When the trail disappears you might pick out a stand of trees or a rock formation and hike towards that, even when you can no longer see the summit itself, knowing arriving at the stand of trees will mean you are still headed in the right direction, Think of a milestone as an identifiable marker that you can see in the distance that will ensure that you remain on course.

If the preferred future you’ve described will take you 5 to 10 years to attain, it will be helpful to identify at least the next milestone or two. When I’m choosing milestones, I want a goal that is attainable in the next 3 to 9 months.

For example, if in my preferred future I want to have 100% of adults in a group and I currently have 45% in a group, then an appropriate milestone might be to have 60% in a group during the six week study that begins February 25th.

Further Reading:

Are We There Yet? Milestones that Lead to the Preferred Future

Determine the action steps that lead to accomplishing your milestone(s)

This is where many plans get bogged down or completely derailed. It’s one thing to imagine a preferred future or even set a milestone or two. It is another thing entirely to identify the action steps that actually lead to accomplishing your milestones.

Milestones are goals, and goals are arbitrary. The attainability of a goal has everything to do with the combination of clear thinking, insight, and godly vision of your team. When the goal is set correctly, it will usually be an attainable stretch. It won’t be easy. It won’t be a no-brainer. But it also won’t be completely ridiculous.

It also helps to think of milestones as lag indicators. A lag indicator is proof that you accomplished your goal. When you get to 60% connected in March of 2018, you will have accomplished your milestone.

And that’s where identifying and determining the action steps that lead to accomplishing your milestone(s) come in.

Think of the steps that lead to the milestone as lead indicators. Lead indicators are the actions that result in arriving at the milestone.

For example, if we are to arrive at 60% of our adult weekly worship attendance, we’ll have to connect more adults and probably add more groups. To do that we’ll need to plan a small group connection, promote it skillfully and persistently, and execute it well.

The action steps in this case would be things like:

  • Develop an FAQ about the small group connection and the importance of being connected and make it available at the small group ministry kiosk.
  • Include a sign-up form in the program on February 11 and 18.
  • Promote the connection in the messages on February 11, 18, and 25.
  • Feature a “benefits of being connected” video (or a live testimony) in the service on February 11 and 18.
  • Send a church-wide email from Senior Pastor on February 13 and 20 promoting the connection with a link the registration.

Further Reading:

FAQ: What Should We Be Measuring (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

Are You Working on the Right Things (to build a thriving small group ministry)?

Celebrate arrival

When you achieve the milestone, it is essential to celebrate.

  • Plan it in advance.
  • Let your team know there will be a celebration.
  • Make it commensurate to the degree of difficulty.
  • Budget for it.

Final Note:

This is a wash, rinse, repeat pattern. It must be done again and again in order to arrive at the preferred future you’ve identified.

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