What are the biggest problems you face as a small group pastor or director? Sometimes it can feel like you are the only one struggling with a particular problem. As it turns out...there is a very common list of problems that pop up over and over.
The silver lining? Every one of these problems has a solution. Sometimes they seem overwhelming, but they are not unsolvable.
I've been at this a long time. I've pretty much seen it all. Here's my list:
The 7 biggest problems facing small group pastors:
1. A senior pastor who is reluctant or ineffective as small group champion.
This may be the most under-the-radar problem facing small group pastors. After all, a significant number of senior pastors will tell you, "We hired a small group pastor to be the small group champion!" Do you face that problem? Does your small group pastor?
Solution: With the right groundwork and modeling every senior pastor can learn to champion small groups. Sometimes they will need to see examples of effective senior pastors playing the part. Other times they will simply need clarification on the role and a little coaching on language.
2. The small group pastor position is too low on the org chart.
Building a thriving small group ministry depends on the right decisions being made at the right time. When the most knowledgable and most passionate person is 2 or 3 rungs down from where decisions are made it is irresponsible to assume the best outcome. Are you there? Is your small group pastor?
Solution: Admittedly, this is not an easy problem to solve. Still, when building a thriving small group ministry is a priority of the organization, the right values will be well represented in top level conversations. If you are not at that table, your supervisor will need to personally own the values.
When building a thriving small group ministry is a priority of the organization, the right values will be well represented in top level conversations. If you are not at that table, your supervisor will need to personally own the values. Click To Tweet
3. Equal status and promotion for every ministry and program.
When everything is important, nothing is important. Churches that promote everything equally should not expect anything to thrive. How does your menu look?
Solution: Your belong and become menu must be edited. Options that build sideways energy will need to deemphasized or eliminated. Clarity about the small set of drivers that can have the biggest impact must be developed.
4. Unrealistic expectations.
Churches with thriving small group ministry cultures have build them over years, even decades.
The belief that you can arrive at your preferred future, that you can move from where you are to where you want to be, in a single move or even a few moves, is unrealistic. To cast as vision unrealistic expectations leads to idea fatigue.
Solution: Develop a longer term horizon. Spend time developing a carefully articulated preferred future. Identify the milestones that lead to your preferred future.
5. Acceptance of the status quo.
Remember, your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing. If you want different results, you must disrupt the status quo. Failure to break free from the stranglehold of the status quo dooms you to remain stuck. Is that your world?
Solution: Regularly connect results with design. Add evaluation to your planning process and encourage brutal honesty and autopsies without blame.
See also, Beware the Lure of the Status Quo.
6. Codependent catering to the usual suspects.
The easiest thing to do is to satisfy the already connected. The wisest thing to do is to become preoccupied with the needs and interests of the right people (i.e., the still unconnected, unreached people in your crowd and community). Who are you catering to?
Solution: Carefully evaluate who you are connecting and who you are not connecting. Identify and then pay close attention to the real needs and interests of those you are not connecting. Allow their needs and interests to shape connection strategy.
7. Strategic mismatch between the small group system or model and the percentage unconnected.
This problem plagues both the small group pastor and senior pastor alike. Falling in love with systems or models without acknowledging and even choosing the set of problems that come with them always comes back to haunt. Have a high percentage unconnected? Be sure you are paying attention to the number of new groups you are actually launching every year. Problems finding enough new leaders? Be sure you are connecting that result to the design of your system.
Solution: Know and understand your real percentage connected. Track the real number and monitor progress or lack of progress. Always connect results (or lack of results) with design.
What do you think? Have a question? Have one to add? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Will Schrimshaw