One of the greatest challenges facing a church that desires to become a church of groups is the notion that trying harder or simply tweaking what they’re doing is all that’s missing. In fact, that’s probably the #1 fantasy of church with groups. Why? Because trying harder or tweaking what you’re doing still leads to the same place. Only different leads to a new destination.
Different Leads to a New Destination
Here’s the whiteboard drawing that I freehand whenever I’m explaining the concept that only different leads to a new destination. Let me explain the parts of the drawing.
First, notice the spot near the bottom of the drawing called “Present.” That represents where you are now. That circle represents all that is true about your current situation (i.e., how frequently small groups are talked about, whether you offer a full buffet or a plated meal, if your senior pastor is the champion of small groups or delegates that away, etc.).
The Probable Future in the diagram is where you’ll end up if nothing changes. In other words, if we come back in 10 years and take a look at your congregation we can count on one thing. Things will pretty much be the same. If you’re a church with groups, you’ll still be a church with groups. Because, in order to get to a different destination…you’ve got to do more than try harder or tweak what you’re doing. If you want to get to a church of groups, you’ll have to be significantly different.
The Possible Future is what it sounds like. It represents all of the possibilities. It represents building a massive new building with tons of available space to hold on-campus Bible studies. It represents creating an online group concept that can connect people with a web-based strategy that allows real community without leaving home. It represents the possibility of connecting everyone in your congregation (even your crowd) in a group where they can be loved and held accountable; where they can be cared for and challenged to grow in Christ.
The Preferred Future is where you dream of ending up. It is the specific destination to which you dream of arriving. There’s nothing in the preferred future that isn’t intended. Everything has turned out as designed. There’s not a week that goes by when your senior pastor doesn’t mention grouplife. Not only is it easy for unconnected adults to find a group that fits them, it’s where ministry happens. Every group naturally identifies a way to serve together…in the community. Every member of your congregation is learning how to connect with their neighbor in such a way that it’s commonplace for new groups to begin on the cul de sac.
Why Won’t Trying Harder or a Simple Tweak Work?
There are two main reasons that trying harder or tweaking what you’re doing never lead to a new destination. First, only a radically different trajectory leads to a different place. That’s easy to see in the drawing. If you want to end up in your preferred future…you’ve got to move off of the trajectory that leads to probable. Second, and a little less obvious, is that the present (where you are right now) is actually the probable future of decisions that you made in the past.
If you want to arrive at a destination that includes being a church of groups…you’ll need to move to a different trajectory, you’ll need to move to a new path…because the well-worn path never arrives at a new destination.