Too many unconnected people. Not making enough disciples. Can't find enough leaders.
Albert Einstein famously said, "If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
When I think about problems, I try to stay focused on determining the right questions.
Peter Drucker noted that, "The most common source of management mistakes is not the failure to find the right answers. It is the failure to ask the right questions… Nothing is more dangerous in business than the right answer to the wrong question”
The most common source of management mistakes is not the failure to find the right answers. It is the failure to ask the right questions. Nothing is more dangerous in business than the right answer to the wrong question. — Peter Drucker Click To Tweet
Are you asking the right questions?
6 questions I think you should be asking:
1. What are we trying to do?
This is a very important question and really another way of asking, "What business are we in?" Don't miss this question. If you don't ask this question you may very well end up with a small group model, system or strategy that won't actually do what you want to do. For example, some small group strategies will connect unconnected people but won't make disciples. Others will make disciples but will only appeal to the tastes of high achievers.
2. Who do we hope to connect to a small group?
This is another very important question and is a version of asking, "Who is your primary customer?" The answer to this question ought to inform the strategy you use to connect people. The kind of person you hope to connect should dictate the way you market connecting opportunities, the studies you use to start new groups, the length of the commitment you require, and many other aspects. And don't fall for the false hope that everyone can be your primary customer. The product that attempts to appeal to everyone appeals to no one.
3. What will we call success?
Another very important question. Sometimes framed as, "What will you call a win?," this is a question to which the answer should be determined before you begin. Waiting until the results are in to determine whether your strategy succeeded is more than just foolish. It is foolish but it is also dangerous. When you wait for the results to come in you are more likely to justify a miss. When you thoughtfully declare in advance what you will call success, the lack of wiggle room will force you to evaluate more honestly.
4. Who can be a leader?
The answer to this question will determine some important aspects of your small group ministry. The higher the bar you set, the more difficult it will be to find the number of leaders you need. The lower the bar you set, the easier it will be to find them but the more important an excellent coaching structure will be. See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar?
5. What will we call a group?
This answer to this question will either narrow your focus (make it more like a laser) or broaden your focus (more like a floodlight). Keep in mind that the design of your ministry will determine the results of your ministry. See also, Top 10 Signs Your Small Group Ministry Is Schizophrenic.
6. Will groups be the only way to do what we've decided they will do?
Essentially a follow-up question to #1 above, clarity surrounding the answer to this question is a must. Calling everything a group will create a simpler (but less potent) pathway. See also, A Smörgåsbord of Destinations vs. Sequential and Tailored Next Steps.
Are these the only questions? Not by a long shot, but I do believe they are the most important.
Image by Luis Sarabia