Evaluate Your Small Group Ministry with My Signature 10 Point Checklist

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Everyone knows that before you take your car on a road trip...you really should do more than fill up the gas tank. You might check the tire pressure and take it in for an oil change. You might decide it's time for new windshield wipers or even a new set of tires.

Getting ready for the next leg in your small group ministry adventure? Maybe it's time you took your ministry through my signature 10 point checklist!

Evaluate Your Small Group Ministry with My Signature 10 Point Checklist

1. Review your small group ministry's present state.

There are a number of ways you can think about the way things are right now. An accurate understanding of where you are right now is essential no matter where you want to go.

See also, Diagnosing a Small Group Ministry and The Four Helpful Lists by Tom Paterson.

2. Review (or create) your end in mind for your ideal small group.

What kinds of groups do you want for every member of a group? Are there certain activities and habits? Are there certain experiences? What do you want it to feel like to be part of a small group in your system?

See also, The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.

3. Review (or create) your preferred future for the kind of small group leader you dream of producing.

Spend some time thinking about the kind of leaders you will need to have in order to create the micro-environments that actually encourage life-change.

See also, From Here to There: The Preferred Future for Small Group Leaders.

4. Review (or create) your annual grouplife calendar.

Have you planned to take advantage of the best opportunities to connect unconnected people? Have you built in the steps that will allow you to maximize impact? Or have you compromised and compressed timelines in a way that will lessen impact?

See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.

5. Evaluate your current coaching team.

Do you have high-capacity, hundred and sixty-fold players on the team? Or have you compromised and added thirty-fold players who struggle to accomplish their mission? Have you settled for warm-and-willing when hot-and-qualified is needed

See also, Diagnosis: The Coaches in Your System.

6. Evaluate your current plan to develop the coaches on your team.

Remember, whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your groups must happen first in the lives of your small group leaders. If that's true, then whatever you want to happen in the lives of your leaders must happen first in the lives of your coaches. Can you see where this is going? Assuming that your coaches will develop themselves is short sighted and compromises the integrity of your system.

See also, 7 Practices for Developing and Discipling Coaches.

7. Evaluate (or create) your plan to develop your existing small group leaders.

I am a fan of a very low entry bar of leadership...but the word "entry" is a very important word. I also know that lowering the bar and recruiting HOSTs won't often put shepherds into the system. It will usually put people who are willing to open up their home. If you want to make it easy to begin as a host, you've got to make it nearly automatic that new hosts step onto a leader development conveyor belt that moves them in the direction you want them to go. Don't have the conveyor belt? Now's the time to build it!

See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback's Leadership Pathway.

8. Evaluate your existing leaders in search of potential coaches.

Look over your list for high capacity leaders who may be able to put their toe in the water of caring for another new leader or two. Your best coaching candidates are almost always leading their own group and doing a great job. Inviting them to test-drive the coaching role by helping mentor a new leader or two is a great way to let them put a toe-in-the-water.

See also, What If Your Coaching Structure Looked Like This?

9. Take a careful look at the next connecting event you've got planned.

Will you take advantage of the next optimum time to connect people? Do you have several weeks of promotion built in? Have you designed the event to appeal to unconnected people? Have you chosen a study that will peak the interest of unconnected people? Have you already chosen a great follow-up study?

See also, 6 Essential Components of a Small Group Launch.

10. Evaluate (or create) your recommended study list.

One of the most helpful tools you can provide for small group leaders is a recommended study list. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It can begin as simply as a top 10 list. It can exist as a page on your website or a simple handout that you keep updated.

Need help?

How to Diagnose Your Small Group Ministry is a four session mini-course will help you get into the details of what you're doing, spot the flaws in your ministry and correct them. It will also teach you how to do what I do when I'm hired as a consultant to help churches build a thriving small group ministry. Find out more right here.

Image by Dave Crosby

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  1. Travis Stephens on August 5, 2015 at 8:01 am


    Can you tell me how most churches are evaluating small group attendance? Here’s what I mean by that. If a church says they have 50% of their congregation involved in groups, are they measuring per semester, or over the course of a year? If someone attends three different groups, do they count as one person, or three?

  2. markchowell on August 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Good questions Travis. I think most churches are taking a snapshot at a given time (i.e., mid October) counting the number of people in a group and dividing it by their average adult attendance in worship. And, I think most are simply acknowledging that their number is +/- the people who are in multiple groups at the same time.