Clue #4 When Designing Your Small Group System

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The 4th clue when designing your small group system is to ask great questions from the beginning and every step along the way (This is part four of a continuing series.  You can read part one right here.).

What’s so important about the questions you’re asking?  Great questions bring the power of clarity into your mission, strategy and tactics.  The first three of my favorite questions were asked by Peter Drucker, the renowned business writer and thinking, but they’re great questions to ask when you’re working on ministry design.

Let me show you five of my favorite questions:

  • What business are we in? Don’t be scared away by the word business. This is a great question to ask early in the design of a ministry.  You want to really be clear on what it is that you’re trying to do (i.e., make disciples, connect adults, help adults connect with their neighbors, etc.).
  • Who is our customer? This is an important question to have in your bag of tricks.  Knowing the specific group that you’re trying to reach makes a big difference in how you go about it.  And it’s not helpful to say, “Everyone is our customer.”  Better to be clear on who you’re primarily interested in designing the system for.
  • What will we call success? Similar to the concept that Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner talk about in The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, you want to clarify what a win is for the ministry you’re designing.  When you can do this succinctly, you’ll have much fewer false starts and wrong turns.
  • What would have to be true for that approach to work? I love this question!  For example, if you’re building the apprenticing practice into your small group system design and counting on it to produce enough new leaders to actually connect your congregation…you need to be able to answer this question.  And you need to find the answers credible!
  • What would have to be true for the option on the table to be a fantastic option? This is another great question.  It forces your team to be honest about the system they’re designing (These last two questions are from another of my favorite books, The Design of Business by Roger Martin.  Although not a book on ministry, it is a very insightful read and extremely helpful when you’re learning to ask great questions.)

You can read part 5 of the series right here.  Did you miss part one of this series?  You can start from the beginning right here.

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1 Comment

  1. Jonnie on March 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Mark, I’d love for you to look at out Groups Interactive product. This intuitive and powerful search tool helps visitors to your website search for and get connected with a small group. Built with the direct input of small group minister, Groups Interactive is designed to be embedded into any website. Check it out at I’d love to hear what you have to say.