The Challenge I Shared with the Groups Team Last Thursday

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Where will you go in 2018? Where will you take your small group ministry?

Last Thursday I shared two thoughts with the team I lead at Canyon Ridge.

First thought:

The first thought I shared was based on an Andy Stanley quote I’ve shared with you a million times over the last 10 years here at

“Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.”

“Here’s the moral of the story,” I said. If you’re not happy with the results you are currently experiencing…you must change the design.

“The results you are currently experiencing are based on one thing. Design.

“Your results aren’t a fluke. They aren’t caused by the weather. They aren’t explained by chance.

“Your results are based on the design you’ve selected. And if you want different results…you must change the design.”

Their responses

Like most teams, the responses to my first challenge to them were varied. Some wanted to pin results on things that were “outside of their control” (like the lack of mention they had gotten during the weekend services or the fact that many in their affinity weren’t interested in a traditional group (i.e., 10 to 12 people, meeting weekly, studying a DVD-driven curriculum, etc.).

I explained that both of those aspects were really part of the design and if they didn’t like their results they needed to change the design. For example, if the success of their program or strategy depended on mention during the weekend, it might not be the best design. And if many in their affinity were interested in a traditional group, they definitely needed to design some earlier steps that would make sense for that kind of person.

I also suggested they keep in mind that groups are important at Canyon Ridge because we believe that life-change is the end in mind and circles are optimal environment for life-change. A circle is not a synonym for 10 to 12 people, meeting weekly, studying a DVD-driven curriculum. Circles can be many things that are formed in relationships and grounded in growing in Christ.

Bottom Line #1:

Since results are based on design, keep looking for a design that actually produces the results you are seeking. Don’t love the strategy so much that you turn blind eyes to results (or the lack thereof).

And as Andy Stanley pointed out in Deep and Wide,

Marry your missionDate your model. Fall in love with your vision. Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.”

“Model” is a synonym for design. When the model no longer produces the results you are seeking, be willing to change the model.

Second thought:

The second thought I shared was based on a Craig Groeschel quote I heard at the 2008 Global Leadership Summit. It was a powerful moment. I remember exactly where I was when I heard it.

“If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you must do things no one else is doing.”

I wrote that line down in my notebook and probably missed most of what was said afterwards.

As I’ve often said since, some things are self-evident and whenever you think about them again, your ideas are shaped by them. Grosechel’s line is one of those kinds of things.

When I shared the line with my team, I told them we each need to think about the fact that while we’ve connected about 63% of our average adult weekend worship attendance (3500/5500), it will probably require doing something different to connect the other 37% (let alone the thousands represented by our Easter/Christmas Eve attendance).

Their responses

This quote produced a very robust conversation that will require revisiting. I’d say it was a light bulb moment for 2 or 3 on the team. It signaled that it might be okay to do different things in order to reach different people.

“Yes!” I said.

Bottom Line #2:

Our preferred future is to connect beyond 150% in groups with a leader being developed to develop others. The end in mind is life-change.

Since, each and every thing you try will require its own design, you must be willing to experiment and ruthlessly evaluate results. And the design is what produces your results.

Where will you go in 2018? Where will you take your small group ministry?

Further Reading:

What will you try this year that might change your ministry’s trajectory?

What’s on my list to try in 2018 (that might change our ministry trajectory)?


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