Four Decisions Wise Small Group Pastors Make Once

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You know the decisions you have to make every time you turn around?  The decisions that seem almost forced upon you in moments of weakness?  The decisions that catch you off guard and lead you to agree to things you don’t really want to do?

I think all of us could make a quick list of decisions we’ve made that we immediately (or eventually) regretted.  All of us.

Some of us, though, have learned from the consequences and decided to never make that mistake again.

Here are four decisions wise small group pastors make once:

  1. Prioritize launching new groups over adding members to existing groups.  This is such an important decision!  If you want to build a thriving small group ministry, launching new groups must be a high priority.  Wise small group pastors decide to focus their energy on strategies that launch more new groups.  They also decide to train existing group leaders to fish for new members.  See also, Critical Decision: Launch New Groups vs Add Members to Existing Groups and Skill Training: Top 10 Ways to Find New Group Members.
  2. Step down from the role of matchmaker.  Your time and energy (and your team’s time and energy) is better devoted to higher priority aspects of small group ministry.  Taking sign-ups to join a small group sets in motion the time and energy draining activity of finding the best group for each member.  The larger the sign-up, the more difficult the role of matchmaker becomes.  Instead of spending time and energy matchmaking, wise small group pastors decide to stop taking sign-ups to join a group and start taking sign-ups to attend an event that launches new groups (i.e., a small group connection or GroupLink type event).  See also, What’s the Best Way for People to Sign Up and Commit to a Group?
  3. Never recruit new coaches. Always recruit “helpers”.  Wise small group pastors understand that it is much harder to get someone out of a role than into a role.  This is true whether the role is a staff position or a volunteer position.  When you recruit some to be a small group coach (without observing them in action first) you set up the potential for a difficult conversation.  Wise small group pastors decide to engage potential new coaches in a test-drive first and decide whether coaching is a good fit based on fruitfulness and fulfillment.  “We’re launching some new groups this fall and I’m wondering if you’d be willing to walk alongside 1 or 2 newbie small groups leaders for their first 6 to 10 weeks?”  See also, Three Keys to a Coaching Tune-Up and Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns.
  4. Invest time and energy in the right things.  There are many things that must be done by somebody that aren’t the best way for a small group pastor to spend their time and energy.  Wise small group pastors spend their time doing a few simple but vital things.  (a) Identifying, recruiting and developing leaders of leaders (coaches).  They understand that whatever you want to happen in the lives of group members must happen first in the lives of group leaders and whatever you want to happen in the lives of group leaders must happen first in the lives of small group coaches.  (b) Planning an annual series of group launching and leader development strategies.  And (c), developing an effective partnership with their senior pastor (i.e., the small group champion).  See also, The 7 Biggest Problems Facing Small Group Pastors and What Some Small Group Pastors Know…that Others Don’t.

What do you think?   Have a question?  Have one to add?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Colston on November 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Hi Mark,

    I have found myself applying 1, 2 and 4 due to making the mistake the first time. It is always fun making mistakes and learning from them!
    One interesting thing that you mentioned was #3. I have yet to find a way to move myself away from playing match maker. We function with the campaign model but I find it extremely difficult to move people into groups once the campaign is half way over. Do you have suggestions on how I can move away from playing match maker. I HATE doing it but I haven’t found a great solution. Thoughts?


  2. markchowell on November 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Colston! I hear you, and there is a slightly more difficult spot about halfway through a 6 week campaign. An online finder (like ChurchTeams) can help. We only list open groups on our finder. Another possibility is asking or requiring leaders of groups still looking for members to staff a “find a group” table in the lobby.