Connecting the Widening 60% (who are unreachable by the attractional model)

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In my mind, one of the most important trends to watch (and one that will require our most intentional counter-strategies) is what Tim Stevens calls the shrinking 40% that are still reachable by an attractional model. More to the point, the stats are coming in from many sources that indicate there are serious reasons to recognize what's happening as just the beginning of post-Christian America.

Jon Meacham's 2009 Newsweek article, The End of Christian America, provided an important early salvo in what's become a deluge of accumulating evidence.  Gabe Lyon's The Next Christians, an insight packed follow-up to his earlier project (unChristian with David Kinnaman), continues building the foundation for a post-Christian America. Lyon's recent webinar with Tim Keller provides a fascinating look into the building new reality.

The reason I write frequently about the outreach potential of crowd's edge and urge you to recognize that the x-factor is near the that I want you to see that it's not enough to connect the usual suspects! In fact, although I regularly remind you that no small group solution is problem-free and every small group system or strategy has its advantages and disadvantages...I absolutely believe we all need to be mindful of the fact that most small group strategies only connect people from the congregation, committed and core (to use Saddleback's concentric circle illustration).

The reason I've been writing about the missional group strategy and the HOST strategy is that I believe it is critical that we pay attention to the widening 60% who will never be reached by the attractional model. This is a critical moment, friends.  Be sure you're keeping your eye on the great prize. As Larry Osborne and Ron Sylvia have said, "We have to fight our way to the fringes...because that's where the life-change is."

What do you think? Make sense? Want to argue? Got a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Prov2121 on March 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Hey Mark,

    I think this does make a lot of sense. As I prayerfully ponder where God is leading and teaching in regards to small groups, I have come up with the following:

    1. Clearly know (and be able to communicate) your purpose for small groups, where you want to take people and a clear, simple plan for how to get there.
    2. Have 2 types of small groups: LIFE groups for long-term friendship/accountability/growth and FOCUS groups for short-term, focused bible study
    3. Long-term groups should center around relationship building with simple core values for discipleship and outreach (connecting, growing, serving, following…)
    4. Long-term groups should follow more conversational studies that are relevant to our culture. Consider having all these groups follow the same study(s) for a season to allow new comers to enter in (when there are a lot of people doing the same thing at the same time this creates momentum and inspires unity and growth…).

    I think the church today has lost the value of ‘together.’ We have so many good ideas that we cannot simply stick to one idea and make it great. I heard someone say recently, “if there is a mist in the pulpit then there will be a fog in the congregation…”

    We are definitely stuck in a fog and people (inside and outside the church) just do not know what the church is trying to say or do anymore. Those ‘inside’ are anxious, critical and/or burnt out and those outside say to themselves, why bother…

    In the midst of all this confusion, it is easy to sense that God is working and preparing His ‘remnant…’ for His next great work… 2 Chron. 7:14-16

    Thanks for your ministry and I pray that the Lord continues to inspire you and bless you and that we all can have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us…

    God bless you brother

    Proverbs 21:21

  2. Anonymous on March 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks for your very thoughtful comment! I love what you’re thinking. These are very interesting times in which, as Craig Groeschel has said, “If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you’re going to have to do things no one else is doing.” God bless you as you work it!


  3. Eliseminor on April 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    This is great information. I am curious about focus groups; are people more likely to get connected to a life group either after or during focus groups? Are people using focus groups as a substitute title for “classes”?

    I am trying to understand how that may work in our ministry; it’s a hard sell – we don’t want people to come out of focus/short term groups and then stagnate.

  4. Anonymous on April 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here, Elise! I think you can see that the idea of “focus groups” was added by Rob back in March. He does include his email…perhaps he’d be open to sharing his idea with you. I will say, many churches are using short term groups to meet specialized needs and then figuring out how to help those groups continue if there is an interest. For example, you can see how offering short term Financial Peace groups coupled with giving those groups a way to continue…might pay off with some really well connected and deep relationships.