Take a Small Group Vacation!

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Have you ever brainstormed potential small group leaders and run into the two-headed monster of leader recruitment?  You may not know it by that name…but you know it when you see it.

The first thing you notice is that the best candidates are already in a group.  Right?  You’re not alone in this realization.  In fact, it’s very common for churches attempting to re-energize their small group ministry to find that many of their existing groups are full of potential leaders!  What’s the second thing you notice?  The best potential leaders rarely want to leave their group!  They’re happy.  They’re connected.  They don’t want to give up what they’ve got.

That’s a really tough monster to overcome!  What can you do?  Well…you can try and force them to leave their group.  My experience is that it never really comes off very well.  You can guilt them into helping.  That doesn’t work very well either.  So what can you do?  I’ve found that you can get different results by calling it something different and giving it a temporary feel.  Here’s what I mean:

When you ask someone to leave their group and start a new one…you’re describing it in a way that has a fairly permanent feel.  What if instead of asking them to “leave” you asked them to consider “taking a six-week vacation” from their group?  Feel the difference?  Leaving sounds permanent.  Vacation sounds temporary.

Can it really be that easy?  There’s a little more to it, but not much.  Here are the things you need to do on the front end:

  • Have a plan for when the six weeks is over.  This is a big one.  You need to assure your temporary leaders that you’ll help them identify a leader for the new group (usually from within the members of the new group).
  • Choose a study that will be easy to use (DVD-driven), doesn’t require a “teacher,” and then train your temporary leaders to ask their new members to take turns facilitating the study.
  • Capture the God-stories of groups started this way.  This will help the next time.
  • Make a big deal of the people who volunteer to take a six-week vacation from their group.  Philippians 2:4, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Want to fight the two-headed monster and win?  Try something different!  Ask your groups to take a vacation!

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  1. John Fisher on November 12, 2008 at 2:44 am

    If the group found this posting and recognised it, could they not feel resentment at being manipulated and having your true motivations hidden ?

  2. Mark Howell on November 12, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Hey John! You raise a good point…and it does come up in the minds of some potential vacationers (whether they read an article or not!).
    When you’re working this strategy you’ll need to assure potential leaders that you have a plan for when the six weeks is over and that you’ll help them identify a leader for the new group.
    At the same time, there are many times when I’ve said, “Who knows? Maybe you’ll like the people so much that you’ll want to stay!” There have also been many, many times when I’ve made heroes out of them by referring to them in a leader rally, having them stand while I told the story of them leaving behind what was theirs for the sake of those who didn’t have what they needed.
    One of my most precious memories is the time I was able to also make heroes out of three couples who were taking a vacation from a group that had been formed by taking a vacation.
    I think you’re asking a great question…it’s one that needs to be asked. But it’s one that needs an answer that is about vision.