Diagnosing a Small Group Ministry

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When you step into the exam room at your doctor’s office, what happens is determined by the reason for your visit. Could be an annual checkup. You may have some symptoms that are troubling. Or you may just feel awful and want to get better. The reason for your visit determines what your doctor does.

Diagnosing your small group ministry is very similar. It may just be time for an annual checkup. You may be noticing some troubling symptoms. Or…things may just be awful and you want it to get better. The reason for your diagnosis determines what you do.

Over the next few days I’m going to walk you through some steps to diagnosing your small group ministry. We’ll talk about diagnosis ideas, steps to diagnosing, and even get to some prescription. But first, lets look at the components that need diagnosing (whether you’re new on the scene or the ministry founder). There are several parts that require at least an annual checkup:

  1. The groups on your list. The first step in many cases is to thoroughly call through your list and make sure these groups are actually meeting right now. It’s important to be playing with real numbers (not inflated numbers pulled up by the last church-wide campaign…especially if it is the high-water mark brought on by 40 Days of Purpose in 2004). Your list may simple be a printed list on your desk or it might be live on the website. Whatever you’re using needs to be accurate.
  2. The leaders in your system. Right after determining the viability of the groups on your list, you need to determine the fitness of the leaders in your system. There are several parts to fitness: communication, loyalty to the church and your pastor, and ability to build their own group are just 3 components of a longer list.
  3. The coaches in your system. Are they really doing what you want them to do? Or are they coaching in name only?
  4. Senior Pastor buy-in. This is very big and there is no substitute. A thorough diagnosis includes an honest evaluation about the level of support you are currently receiving from the only voice that counts.
  5. The website. This is more than accuracy. In addition you’ll want to evaluate how easy it is for a new person to find out about your group ministry. Do they have to drill down three levels? Or is it easy, obvious and strategic?
  6. Lobby presence. This may be a brochure, but it should be actual presence at a kiosk or the welcome center.
  7. Curriculum suitability. Does the curriculum you’re making available for your groups to choose from actually support the kind of groups you are attempting to launch and sustain?

These are the 7 most important aspects for diagnosis of the small group ministry.  There is an 8th component, but this is to diagnose the suitability of the point leader.

Here are the other articles in this series:

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