Next Steps for Everyone…and First Steps for Their Friends

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If you’ve ever heard Rick Warren say “if you steal from 10 or more it’s sheer creativity” (from the quote: If you steal from one person, it’s plagiarism.  If you steal from 5 people it’s research.  And if you steal from 10 or more, it’s sheer creativity.), you’ll get me when I say, I’m a very creative person.

I invent almost nothing.  I borrow a lot of ideas.  I tweak a lot of borrowed ideas.  And I mash-up things that I think will work well together.  I am a mad scientist who loves taking parts of things and combining to make it better.  I am a synthesizer who loves whiteboarding ways to make it happen.

After years of collaborating on marketing ideas and concept development, I actually came up with an original line (or at least think it’s mine) that I love.  Here it is:  When we’re planning events, we want to develop “next steps for everyone…and first steps for their friends.” [click to tweet]

Why am I telling you this?  Easy.  It adds to the grouplife conversation about types of groups.  In several recent articles (i.e., The Ongoing Open vs Closed Group Debate, Open Groups, Closed Groups, and Specialized Groups,  and Was Jesus Really in a Closed Group?), we’ve had a lot of good conversation.  Really some of the best interaction we’ve ever had.

And yet…I think we need one, very important clarification.  Here it is:

When I say I’m a fan of open groups (and I am a big fan of the open group philosophy), I want you to understand that that doesn’t mean “open 24 hours.”  An open group can have seasons where it closes to new people in order to care for it’s members.  An open group has the freedom to dis-invite a group member that isn’t abiding by the group agreement.  An open group can take its name off the small group finder while a complex issue is being worked out.  “Open”
can mean a lot of things.  At it’s core, an open group has simply embraced an inclusive bias.

So…is there a need in a grouplife ecosystem for intentionally closed groups?  Yes!  Certain issues, certain objectives are more effectively attained in a group that limits participation to a pre-approved membership.  An elder team, a therapy group, and a turbo group being developed for leadership are all forms of closed groups.

Do there need to be groups designed to include friends and neighbors?  Absolutely!  In fact, since family, friends, neighbors and co-workers are much more likely to come over to your house than come with you to church…if you don’t have ways to connect at crowd’s edge, you’ll never reach the widening 60% who will never be reached by the attractional model.

In short, there needs to be next steps for everyone…and first steps for their friends.

What do you think? See how there might need to be all kinds of groups in order to provide next steps and first steps? Want to argue? Got a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. craigbooker on February 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Do you ever get the feeling the open anytime group welcomes a lack of commitment by potential group members?

  2. markchowell on February 5, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Thanks for jumping in here, Craig! Welcome!

    I can’t say that it welcomes a lack of commitment. Some research has actually shown that open groups produce greater intimacy over time (Egli and Marable). Commitment is probably most commonly produced by leaders and members who do certain things outside of the meeting. What do you think? This might actually be the root of a good blog post!


  3. craigbooker on February 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    From what I have experienced, people seem to jump from group to group without really giving groups a chance. Almost like rushing a fraternity in college. If they don’t immediately click, they go to the next one.
    People either seek Bible study or social hour. It goes from one extreme to the next. I have had groups where the members won’t invest time in a study with substance. This year, the majority of visitors to our group did not come back because they wanted more of a Bible study.

  4. markchowell on February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I’m thinking the question might be “how are they finding your group in the first place?” Once a group has been together for longer than about 3 months it becomes increasingly hard for all but the most agressive extroverts to truly connect. The one exception is when a new member is invited in by a very connected member. If your flow of visitors come from a blind invite (like the Fellowship One finder), it is understandable that they’d be much more transient.

  5. craigbooker on February 5, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    So, how can you grow groups in an open, free market system where most of the groups aren’t filling up? How do you avoid the fair-like atmosphere at connection events?