The Second Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer

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Once you’ve decided what business you’re in (yesterday’s question), you need to figure out what you are going to call success.  Some people think about this question as “clarifying the win.”

This is very, very important.  Oh…it’s tempting to shoot the arrows first and then draw in the target, just like in this well-known Brother Juniper cartoon.  We’ve all done a version of that.  Like when you distribute large numbers of host packets, less than half ever have their first meeting, and you celebrate the 45% that actually start.  Or maybe, every group has an apprentice but even though there’s rarely a birth, you celebrate the occasional new group.  Or how about this one: you’re focusing on making disciples…but the work usually stops at the first generation.  Disciples rarely become disciple makers.  You celebrate when they do.

Trust me, the idea is to decide in advance what you will call success.

Why must you determine what you’ll call success before you begin?  When you choose in advance you:

  • Plan your strategy with the end in mind
  • Have a built in milestone or finish line
  • Are brutally honest about outcomes

A Few Examples

  • Our apprenticing practice is a success when 50% of our existing groups birth every 12 months.
  • Our host recruitment strategy is a success when 3 out of 4 host groups report having a great experience.
  • Our disciple-making strategy is a success when over 50% of the men and women in our program have identified and begun meeting with their own candidate by the time they are within 60 days of the finish line.

For more on the practice of clarifying the win for your ministry, see The 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner.

Want do you think? Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Javin Proctor on November 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    What is your disciple making strategy? You mention 60 days of the finish line, what is your process that you use and what is your process of moving new converts into this strategy?

  2. Anonymous on November 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Hi Javin! Thanks for jumping in here with a great question. I’d have to say though, that the line in the post you are referring to was my attempt to flesh out a clear understanding of “success” for those ministries focused on making disciples. While I’ve found very helpful examples of disciple making strategies (i.e., Real-Life Discipleship, my emphasis and focus has much more to do with connecting at crowd’s edge.


  3. Javin Proctor on November 2, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for the info and the resource! Look forward to reading it.

  4. Curt Trotter on November 23, 2011 at 10:26 am

    again, great post! the answer to this question in each and every aspect of our ministry is a constant guidepost.

  5. Anonymous on November 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thanks Curt! Definitely glad to have you in the conversation!