I was on a coaching call with several staff members from a church wrestling with a number of foundational grouplife issues. A fairly common situation, they had been following the conversation here and were not sure what their next steps were...so they set up a call to pull a pair of fresh eyes into their predicament. See also, Scheduling a Coaching Call.
Their first conviction
As we talked, two divergent convictions slowly came into focus. First, they seemed genuinely concerned about the growing number of unconnected adults and saw off-campus small groups as a way they could reduce that number while building community. They seemed to place a high value on the importance of life-on-life ministry; at one point quoting back to me that "a small group is the optimum environment for life-change."
In the early minutes of the coaching call, I believed we could make quick progress in establishing a plan to move forward aggressively in connecting the unconnected people in their congregation and crowd. Their senior pastor seemed eager to make it happen. The other staff members seemed on board. See also, What's Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
Bada bing, bada boom. Forget about it.
A second conviction emerged
Not so fast my friend. At this point in the conversation a second conviction emerged from the murky edges of their philosophy of ministry. One of the voices on the call began talking about the importance of deeper Bible teaching in addition to attending the weekend worship service (as in an adult Bible fellowship or Sunday School class). Soon all three of them seemed to be passionately extolling the virtues of sitting in rows at the feet of a gifted Bible teacher.
Unperturbed, I asked a series of diagnostic questions.
Preliminary diagnostic questions:
- What is your average weekend adult attendance?
- What was your attendance last Easter or Christmas Eve?
- What percentage of your adults are involved in an on-campus Bible study?
Their answers uncovered a significant finding. Approximately 35% of their adult weekend attendance were involved in an on-campus Bible study. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?
Follow-up diagnostic questions:
- Do your on-campus Bible studies have the ingredients that lead to life-change? See also, Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
- What is the minimum required dose of activity and engagement? In this case, I believed they needed to find conviction about the minimum required dose.
- What is the recommended dose of activity and engagement? A slight variation in the question. I believed their assumptions about how many currently unconnected adults would add another 75 to 90 minutes to their Sunday morning commitment and commit to an off-campus small group.
The call ended with an assignment to come to develop conviction on the minimum dose and the recommended dose. Without conviction it would be unlikely that they could move forward. Depending on the conviction they arrived at, they would choose between two divergent strategies.
Some strategies are incompatible. They are underpinned with opposing assumptions and philosophies. In order to build a thriving small group ministry...one direction must be chosen.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Rob