35 Mistakes, Blind Spots and Faulty Assumptions That Neutralize Small Group Ministry

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I don't know about you...but when I think back on my over 25 years of small group ministry experience, I can spot a truckload of mistakes, blind spots, and faulty assumptions that neutralized a thriving small group ministry. And I've made every one of them.

Some of us learn from other people's mistakes and the rest of us have to be other people. —Zig Zigler Share on X

I'm sure there are many, many more, but here are the first 35 that occurred to me.

35 mistakes: 

1. I didn't realize my senior pastor needed to be the small group champion.

2. I didn't understand my opportunity or responsibility to help my pastor be the small group champion.

3. I believed I could build a thriving small group ministry without the engagement of key church leadership.

4. I under-appreciated my own role in developing a culture of authentic community.

5. I didn't realize that a small group is the optimum environment for life-change.

6. I didn't recognize that the primary activity of the early church was one-anothering one another.

7. I spent 5 years believing that the Meta Church model alone would build a thriving small group ministry.

8. I spent another 5 years on the hunt for a problem-free small group model.

9. I accepted the idea that meeting twice a month was ideal.

10. I thought the most important ingredient in a small group was good curriculum.

11. I didn't realize that the usual suspects want to study topics that unconnected people don't care about.

12. I didn't realize that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at my church again.

13. I thought the best way to multiply groups was for groups to "grow and birth."

14. I thought the best way to identify potential small group leaders was to ask existing small group leaders for their recommendations.

15. I didn't realize that God has already answered the Matthew 9 prayer for workers and that most churches just don't know who they are.

16. I thought the small group connection strategy sounded crazy.

17. I thought the HOST strategy sounded crazy.

18. I didn't see the exponential outreach potential of a church-wide campaign using the HOST strategy for several years.

19. I didn't appreciate the outreach limitation of a church-wide campaign using the HOST strategy until I attempted to use it in what turned out to be a fortress church.

20. I have tweaked a less-than-effective strategy when I needed to admit that it was perfectly designed to produce the results we were experiencing.

21. I didn't realize that skilled Bible teachers could actually impede steps into leadership for group members.

22. I didn't recognize the potential of video-driven small group curriculum to help ordinary people start groups.

23. I didn't realize that the most connected people in a church have the fewest connections outside the church.

24. I didn't anticipate the time when it would be far easier to say "come over to my house" than "come with me to my church."

25. I didn't appreciate the fact that options actually make choosing a next step more difficult.

26. I didn't know that the leap from the safety of the auditorium to a stranger's living room was too big of a step.

27. I didn't understand that a six-week commitment to a group was short enough to help unconnected people say "yes" and long enough for them to begin to feel connected.

28. I missed the significance of helping new groups survive the holidays.

29. I underestimated the potential of a summer "book club" to connect men and women.

30. I thought the best way to train small group leaders was to hold a required small group leader training course.

31. I thought the best way to disciple people was one-on-one.

32. I thought making disciples depended on a curriculum.

33. I said "yes" to people who wanted to be a coach without testing their motives or their capacity.

34. I over-appreciated the "instructor of technique" role of a coach (i.e., coaching leaders to add or improve their skills).

35. I under-appreciated the modeling role of a coach (doing to and for the leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for their members).

What do you think?  Have one to add that I missed?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Christian Yves Ocampo

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