If I Was Starting Today: Part 1

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5524669257_ab67585fd0_bIf I knew then what I know now…

That’s where this series of posts finds its roots.   I’ve been at this a while and I’m often asked what I’d do if I was starting fresh but armed with what I know now.  And in my mind there are three questions and seven core ideas.  And it all begins with this question: “What business are we in?”

This might be a foreign concept to you.   If it is, please hang in here.  This is very important that you understand where we’re going.  If it’s old news to you…we’re going further but we have to start here.

What business are we in?  It’s an old question in the business world.  A key question in the Peter Drucker tradition.  It may seem out of place here, but it is a huge question that should be asked at the very beginning of any discussion about small group ministry.  Why?  Because your answer will determine so much about what you ought to be doing.  Follow me on this.  Seriously give some thought to the way you would describe what it is that you’re trying to do.  This is the mission question and even though we’re talking small groups you ought to have an understanding of your mission.   Do you?

If I were starting today (or pulling my team in for a discussion that might lead to a better direction) I’d be asking this question first.  What business are you in?   Let’s take a crack at it right now.   There are several possible answers.  I think you’ll see that your answer will determine some very important things.

  • We’re in the business of connecting people: That’s a good answer, but may not be complete.  For example, if all you’re trying to do is connect people it might say something about your preferred methods and also what you’ll call a win.
  • We’re in the business of giving people an in-depth Bible study experience: I’ve heard this argument.  Not necessarily bad or wrong…but it will say something about method and what you’ll call a win.
  • We’re in the business of making leaders: Again, not bad…but is that what you’re trying to do?
  • We’re in the business of making disciples: What do you think about that one?  Closer?  Still, it might be mine but not for you.

Years ago I heard Jim Dethmer talk about the mission of the small group ministry at Willow Creek.  He described their mission this way: “To connect people relationally in groups (of 6 to 10) where they could grow in Christ, love one another, and further the work of the Kingdom.”

You need to ask and answer this question for your ministry.   Don’t take the mission of another organization.  Get crystal clear on your own raison d’etre.  It is the first formative step in building a successful small group ministry.

Need more on the idea?  What business are you in?

Take some time to sort through the idea and develop your own conviction.  Use the comment section here to let me know what you’re thinking.  If you haven’t subscribed (it’s free), do it today so that you don’t miss the next post in the series.  You can sign up to get the update by clicking right here.

This is part 1 of a 7 part series.  You can read part 2 right here.

Image by Jake and Lindsay Sherbert

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  1. herschel thompson on April 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This is money! How has no one commented on this?!? To complicate matters you have to answer the question for the senior leadership as well… Groups ministry aside, other upline reasons could include ‘to close the back door’, ‘to give the church ‘stickiness’, to ‘boost tithing pool’, to create a relational communications pathway… Then at some level you have to merge/compromise/synchronize/complement the groups guys perspective into the context where he finds himself. My business (1st draft) is building transformational community leaders.

  2. Anonymous on April 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    You’re the first! Thanks for starting this discussion Herschel. There is a lot to this and it’s always messy. Always. But…it is essential.


  3. Bradm on February 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Wow, Mark!

    This is awesome!  I am starting today, so this is timely and meaningful.  I appreciate your wisdom on how to ask theh right questions and develop the right strategy.  We have only one command from Jesus, “Make disciples.” The best way is small groups.

    I will be using your 7 steps as we explore how to transition http://www.eaglelifechurch.org to a church of small groups.

    Thanks for your insight!
    Brad Murphy

  4. Anonymous on February 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    That is awesome that you found that series! That will definitely help you get off to a good start.

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