You've worked hard to build your small group ministry. It's humming along; firing on all cylinders. And at just about any moment there are a few things that can blow up most of what you've worked hard to accomplish.
What are they?
5 Ways to Blow Up Your Small Group Ministry
1. Changing your small group model
Regardless of your motivation for changing your small group model, when you tinker with the familiar you run the risk of upsetting the apple cart. Doesn't mean you can't switch from a semester model to an ongoing model or from sermon-based to free-market. It does mean that every change ought to be wisely evaluated and made with adequate care. It also means that model changes require what may feel like over communication and extravagant advance notice. See also, 5 Toxic Small Group Ministry Moves.
2. Retroactively assigning coaches to all of your experienced group leaders
This may be the most common way small group ministries get blown up. Providing every small group leader a coach may seem like the wise thing to do but retroactively assigning coaches to experienced leaders is almost always rejected like a bad organ transplant. Your intentions may be good. You may simply want to provide adequate care to every leader but it will rarely be interpreted that way. It almost always feels like the result of a lack of trust or a desire to control. See also, 5 Things I Wish I Had Known about Small Group Coaches.
3. Adding reporting requirements that feel intrusive or unnecessary
What feels reasonable to senior pastors and executive pastors can easily feel excessive to group leaders and invasive to group members. Here's a tip: Before you begin asking group leaders to report anything, ask yourself how you will use the data they report. If there is no legitimate reason to collect it, don't ask for it. FAQ: What Does a Coach Need to Know from a Small Group Leader.
4. Mandating participation in a church-wide study
What may seem like a reasonable expectation to your senior pastor can feel like a major imposition to some group leaders (and members). While the chosen study may seem an obvious choice to church leaders, it will sometimes be perceived as an intrusion by group leaders (and members). Especially when every group is expected to set aside what they are currently studying (and may have been planning to study for months), something well beyond adequate advance notice is required and only sensitive encouragement will be received. See also, 5 Keys to Getting Everyone Involved in a Church-Wide Campaign.
5. Requiring small group leaders to do something they didn't sign up to do
Strategies that make it easy to begin leading a group (i.e., the HOST strategy and the Small Group Connection) are excellent ways to grow the number of groups in your small group ministry. At the same time, expecting new leaders who simply meet low bar requirements to accept high bar expectations (i.e., attending training meetings, meeting with a coach, etc.) often leads to quick exits as a leader. Equally, expecting new leaders who simply said "yes" to opening their home or facilitating a discussion to truly shepherd or disciple their members is an expectation that can lead to the early demise of the leader and the group. See also, How to Help a HOST Become a Small Group Leader.
Image by Jeremy Brooks