I've been thinking lately about the biggest roadblocks to small group ministry; the things that stand in the way of a truly thriving small group ministry. See also, 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
Here are what I believe are the top 5 roadblocks:
- A doubtful or conflicted senior pastor.
- A bloated belong and become menu.
- Indecision about the best next step.
- A myopic understanding of the culture.
- A leadership development disconnect
Roadblock #4: A Myopic Understanding of the Culture
Today I want to spend some time on Roadblock #4: A Myopic Understanding of the Culture.
Essentially, myopia is "a condition in which the visual images come to a focus in front of the retina of the eye resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects" or "a lack of foresight or discernment : a narrow view of something."
Myopia is not hard to diagnose. The symptoms are easily spotted (headaches, eyestrain, squinting). There are relatively easy solutions. An ophthalmologist can prescribe glasses or contacts. Today, lasik surgery can be performed to reshape the cornea.
Organizational myopia is much more difficult to diagnose and treat. The symptoms are easier spotted by an outsider with fresh eyes. Symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed by insiders because nearsightedness developed slowly over time. Vision that was sharp and vivid at one time gradually becomes blurred and colorless.
A Myopic Understanding of the Culture
- Unaware of the culture's biblical illiteracy, frequent references are made to obscure people, events, and principles.
- Participation expectations are determined according to decades old pace of life realities.
- Programs are designed with antiquated ideas about attention spans.
- Lack of programming that meets the needs of single parents and blended families.
- Maintaining and even reinforcing flagship programs and forms of an earlier era while younger generations opt out.
- Regularly missing opportunities to leverage media and technology to connect.
First, an accurate and up-to-date diagnosis is in order.
Whether it is bringing in a pair of fresh eyes that can provide an honest and unbiased evaluation or soliciting input from still connected (or recently departed) members who are more in tune with the culture, you must have an accurate and up-to-date diagnosis. See also, Diagnosis: Brutal Honesty about Your Present.
Second, conduct a frank and no-holds-barred self-assessment of ministry results.
Remember, "your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing (Andy Stanley)." Your results are not a fluke or a coincidence. If programs and ministries that once succeeded are no longer seeing the results you are accustomed to, it is due to a defective design. See also, Ministry Design Determines Results.
Third, identify a church that does have a better understanding of the culture and start a conversation.
You don't have to copy what they are doing. You do have to develop a real-world understanding of the choices they've made and why they've made them.
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Image by Dru Kelly