I get asked a lot of questions. Emails. Twitter and Facebook messages. Blog comments. You get the picture.
I answer a lot of questions. And some of them turn into blog posts. Especially when they are a question a lot of people have.
The question yesterday was: “If you were in my shoes what would you do in your 1st 100 days in a new small group ministry position?”
That’s a good question. You might not have it right now…but you may one day. And in the meantime, the answer is a collection of agenda items that will help you too.
And it turns out I’ve got a lot of experience at this very thing. I’ve had 5 first 100 days in the last 10 years. You read that right.
Here are the things I do in the first 100 days. Very important: These are not sequential. The first three are done concurrently.
- Get an accurate sense/count of the existing small groups and their leaders. I want to know how many there really are, how long they’ve been meeting, and how they began. I want to know how many members actually attend. I want to know if they have an apprentice or co-leader. Depending on the size of the church and the number of existing groups you can gather this information several ways (email survey, phone call, cup of coffee, etc.). See also, How to Diagnose the Groups in Your System.
- Get an accurate sense of any existing coaching structure. This is very important and it’s second on my list because it determines some very important moves. This information tends to be most effectively gathered in person because it’s difficult to assess someone’s capacity in an email response or even over the phone. I want to form my own opinion about the capacity of each current member of the coaching team (30, 60 or 100 fold). I also want to know whether they are really engaged in it. See also, Diagnosis: The Coaches in Your System.
- Get a very accurate sense of your new senior pastor’s enthusiasm for small groups, discipleship and community. Ideally, you will have begun this before you agreed to join the new team, but this is of great importance. What you are able to expect in the way of support, whether your new senior pastor is in a group, if they freely talk about the importance of being connected, and if they are willing to embed asks into their weekend messages are all extremely important to understand. What they are willing to do absolutely determines what you are able to accomplish. See also, 5 Things Senior Pastors Need to Know about Small Group Ministry.
- Develop a grouplife calendar and strategy for the first year. What the next 12 months look like is somewhat based on what you are discovering in the three assessments you are processing. You’ll need to include strategies that launch groups and connect unconnected people and take advantage of the three main connecting seasons. You’ll also need to include coaching development and leader development. The season in which you begin and the urgency of the connected/unconnected ratio play key roles in what you do first but the big rocks are nearly the same everywhere. See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.
I’ve written a couple series of articles that are important understanding about the bigger picture. If I Was Starting Today is a 7 part series that tackles this same idea from another angle. Keys to GroupLife at Crowd’s Edge takes an important look at the design of a small group ministry capable of reaching beyond the congregation.