It's very possible, maybe even probable, that you inherited your small group model or system. That is, the model you're using is what was being used when you arrived on the scene and you played no role in its selection.
It's also possible that you chose or helped choose the model you're currently using. Maybe you arrived and the model in use was broken or ineffective and you were given the opportunity to figure out how to do it...and you chose the model you're using.
Either way, my suggestion is that now might be a good time to do some thinking about your small group model or system. Why now? Easy! Since your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you're currently experiencing doesn't that make now a good time to give some thought to the design of the model you're using?
5 Things You Must Know about Your Small Group Model
When you choose a small group model, system or strategy there are several things you ought to know. Must know, really.
Since there are several very popular models or systems to choose from, the model you choose should be based on an informed choice. Just like any medical treatment or prescription, the model or system you choose has both a set of benefits and a set of side-effects. Knowing them, understanding the capabilities and the liabilities of your model or system will help you choose the right one.
Note: One of the worst things you can do is flip abruptly or frequently between models. See also, 5 Totally Obvious Reasons Small Group Ministries Fail and Top 10 Signs Your Small Group Ministry is Schizophrenic.
1. There is no problem-free small group model.
The first thing you must know is that there is no problem-free small group model.
Every model comes with a set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they would rather have.
This is a critical understanding. I believe the search for problem-free delays more ministry impact than anything else. Instead of hunting for problem-free, we ought to be identifying the set of problems that come with our model or system and determining if we'd rather have different problems!
2. The to-do list that comes with the model you choose.
Second, you must know the to-do list that come with the model you choose. In addition to a set of problems, every model comes with a list of activities that must be accomplished in order for the model to work effectively.
For example, the Semester Model requires confirming the availability of every leader and the study they will be doing for the upcoming semester. the Sermon-Based Model requires a quality study to be written every week and distributed on time to group leaders.
Every model or system has its own to-do list. In order to make a wise decision, you must know that to-do list (and ultimately prefer that to-do list over that of any alternative model).
Every model or system has its own to-do list. In order to make a wise decision, you must know that to-do list (and ultimately prefer that to-do list over that of any alternative model). Click To Tweet
3. What your model will make simple and ordinary.
Third, you must know what your model will make simple and ordinary. One advantage of a model is that it makes complex things simple. For example, the Sermon-Based model takes the guesswork and decision making out of finding the next study. North Point's model drives unconnected people to a twice a year connecting event called GroupLink. Saddleback's model makes leader identification simple (the only qualification for a group leader is that they have friends).
You need to know what your model will make simple.
Another advantage of the right model is that it make extraordinary things ordinary. For example, the Campaign-Driven model makes starting waves of new groups and connecting whole congregations for a six-week study an ordinary thing. The Meta Church Model makes apprenticing ordinary and expected.
4. What your model will make more difficult
Fourth, you must know what your model will make more difficult. A slightly different issue, every model makes a small set of things more difficult (when compared to another model). For example, the Free Market model can make finding new leaders more difficult (when compared to other models). The Meta Church model rarely births new groups fast enough to absorb unconnected people in a growing church.
Understanding what your model makes more difficult helps clarify the list of problems you'd rather have.
See also, Choosing What Not to Do.
5. What your model won't do.
Finally, you must know what your model won't do. Don't miss this. Every small group model has limitations (i.e., things it won't do). For example, apprenticing new leaders takes time and the Cell Church model won't reproduce leaders faster when the need is greater.
Knowing what your model won't do helps clarify the win for upcoming groups campaigns or launches. It also makes the post-campaign autopsy more enlightening.
Despite the old adage that what you don't know can't hurt you, in the case of your small group model or system, there are certain things you must know.
Since unconnected people are worth connecting and spiritual infants and toddlers are worth investing in, we each need to choose the small group model or system that best connects unconnected people and makes better disciples.
Since unconnected people are worth connecting and spiritual infants and toddlers are worth investing in, we each need to choose the small group model or system that best connects unconnected people and makes better disciples. Click To Tweet
Need more help?
Getting it right when choosing the best small group ministry model for your church is not easy. And it's so important! How to Choose the Best Small Group Model for Your Church is a 4 session mini-course provides the guidance you need to truly discern which model best fits the current needs of your church.