First, so that we're all on the same page, let's start with a definition:
on-ramp: noun [on-ramp, -awn] an entrance lane for traffic from a street to a turnpike or freeway
We all know what an on-ramp is when we're driving, right? But when we're talking about small group ministry...it's still just that basic concept of ways to go from the anonymity of the auditorium to the familiarity of the coffee table; to move from unconnected to connected.
On-ramps. Every church needs them.
A small group ministry on-ramp is just that basic concept of ways to go from the anonymity of the auditorium to the familiarity of the coffee table; to move from unconnected to connected. Click To Tweet
Now, let's define easy, obvious, and strategic:
One of the most important insights in the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry is the importance of thinking steps, not programs. In other words, rather than developing or choosing programs (home grown or off-the-shelf), we ought to be designing steps that lead from where people are to where we want them to be.
Think steps, not programs.
A very simple concept.
A very powerful practice.
Got it so far?
Second, let's talk about easy, obvious and strategic:
Within the practice of thinking steps, not programs, is the concept of making every step easy, obvious, and strategic. Essentially, every step should be easy (shouldn't require a running start), obvious (not hard to discover), and strategic (ought to lead in the right direction every time). You can read a more detailed explanation right here.
Can you see how the practice applies to small group ministry? Getting connected to a group ought to be easy, obvious, and strategic.
Let's flesh it out a little more:
Easy: That is, it shouldn't take a lot of work to connect. Think about the process of connecting at your church. Start by thinking about the simple transaction of finding a group to join. Is it easy? Can a prospective member walk up to a booth after service and find a group or sign up for the next Small Group Connection? Or do they have to turn in a form and wait for a response? What about your website? Is it easy to find out how to join a group or sign up for a Connection? Is it easy to find answers about what a small group is?
Obvious: In addition to being easy, how to join a group should also be obvious. In other words, it shouldn't be a guessing game. Think about your announcements (i.e., are you using insider terminology?) Think about your lobby (i.e., Does your signage make it obvious?). Think about your website (i.e., Is your small group ministry represented on the landing page above the fold?) If anything requires a detailed explanation...it's too hard.
Strategic: If you want to connect a lot of people, every thing you do needs to move people in the right direction. Steps that take people out of the way (think ongoing teaching venues where the participants "sit in rows") are what Andy Stanley calls "sideways energy." A strategic step might be an on-campus small group connection that leads to an off-campus small group.
Designing small group ministry on-ramps that are easy, obvious and strategic must be the rule, not the exception.
If you want to build a thriving small group ministry you'll never accept or be content with design that is anything less than exactly what it needs to be. After all, unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again.
If you want to build a thriving small group ministry you'll never accept or be content with design that is anything less than exactly what it needs to be. After all, unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being… Click To Tweet
Need more help?
How to Design NEXT Steps and FIRST Steps is one of the most popular courses in my library!
And it's less than $50 for a limited time!
Here's what you'll learn:
- How to develop a thorough understanding of the different kinds of people who attend your church (design based on keen insights make for a more effective and productive process)
- How to form an accurate set of assumptions that will guide next step and first step design (inaccurate assumptions are the basis for ineffective next steps and first steps)
- How to design an effective next step for each of the kinds of people who attend your church (learning to build custom steps for distinct attendee types will maximize productivity)
- How to evaluate the effectiveness of each new step you build (design, test, evaluate and modify is a powerful equation that will become a driver)
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