Want to build a thriving small group ministry in your church? It won't be easy. It will require a commitment to the long haul, major determination, a willingness to commit resources, disappoint the guardians of the status quo, and much, much more.
But...if you believe that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again, if you want to connect far beyond the usual suspects (and even beyond your average weekend adult worship attendance)...there is no alternative. A commitment to building a thriving small group ministry is a non-negotiable.
Download the expanded version of How to Build a Thriving Small Group Ministry below.
10 principles for building a thriving small group ministry:
1. Begin with the end in mind.
Describing in vivid detail a picture of the preferred future is essential. Make no compromise and take no shortcut. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
2. Diagnose the present with uncompromising honesty.
If you begin with the end in mind, brutal honesty about the here and now is another essential. See also, Brutal Honesty about Your Present.
3. Clarify what you will call a win.
According to Peter Drucker, very few things are as important as determining what you will call success. See also, Clarifying the Win in Your Small Group Ministry.
4. Think steps, not programs.
Design easy, obvious and strategic steps that lead to the preferred future and only to the preferred future. See also, Think Steps, Not Programs.
5. Narrow the focus (to eliminate all but the best steps).
There is no room for turning a blind eye to the inadequacies of yesterday's solutions. See also, Small Group Roadblock #2: A Bloated Belong and Become Menu.
6. Allocate resources to the critical growth path.
Choosing a preferred future is one thing. Allocating finite resources to get to the preferred future is what demonstrates conviction. Budget, key staff and volunteers, space, promotional bandwidth, and senior pastor attention are just a few of the most important resources. See also, Budgeting for the Preferred Future.
7. Commit to the long haul.
The journey to build a thriving small group ministry is not a short sprint. It is a marathon. If you want to arrive at the finish line, you must commit to the long haul. See also, Wash, Rinse, Repeat and the Long Run.
8. Keep one eye on the preferred future.
Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. It will be tempting along the way to settle for something less than a thriving small group ministry. Only by rehearsing again and again what it will be like will the steadfast pursuit continue.
9. Keep the other eye on the very next milestone.
Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged. Milestones could be quantitative (a number of groups or a percentage connected statistic). Milestones can also be qualitative with a little effort (capturing life-change stories or monitoring feedback cards). The objectives that must be accomplished to reach the next milestone are the kind of things that keep teams focused. See also, Are We There Yet? Milestones that Lead to the Preferred Future.
10. Celebration is expected.
A culture of celebration is a must have. Celebrate milestones reached and wins experienced. See also, Top 10 Ways to Build a Culture of Celebration.