The Why Behind the Way of Your Small Group Ministry Strategy

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We all have reasons for the way we’ve designed our small group ministries.  You use a particular strategy or system for a reason (or a lot of interrelated or barely related reasons).  You may have chosen your system or you may have inherited it when you came on the scene.  Sometimes the system was very intentionally selected.  Other times it just became “the way we do things around here” without much thought.

I want to get you thinking today about taking a serious look at the why behind the way of your small group ministry strategy.  Another way of saying it is that you need to take a serious look at the assumptions that are driving the way you do small group ministry.

Why?  Why is it so important?  Examining the assumptions that drive what you do is important for a number of reasons, but one huge reason is that you may find them out of date or incorrect.

In When Growth Stalls, a really helpful article over at HBR, authors Matthew S. Olson, Derek van Bever, and Seth Verry share some powerful ideas about the causes of stall-points in organizational growth. Let me be quick to add, you may not see what you’re wrestling with as a stall-point.  I get that.  But the truth is, if you’re stuck on the way to a church of groups, if you’re consistently averaging 55% of your weekend adult worship attendees in small groups, or if you just have a hard time convincing very many of your adults about the importance of being in a group…you probably need to examine your assumptions.

Here are two of the key reasons for growth stalls they discovered in their study:

  • Leaders must bring the underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with the changes in the external environment.
  • Assumptions that a team has held the longest or the most deeply are the most likely to be its undoing.

Let me unpack these statements.  First, one of the main reasons for a growth stall is that the leaders have underlying assumptions that don’t match up changes in the external environment.  For example, participation in sermon based small groups might have leveled off at the same time your student or children’s ministries are attracting large numbers of unchurched families.  It may be time to look at the assumptions that drive your use of the sermon based approach.

Second, lets say you have a perennial challenge finding enough leaders for your free market small group ministry.  The people who are enthused about leading a dog training or fly fishing group, or for that matter a Bible study group, are not reproducing as fast as the need for groups.  What do you need to do?  You may need to reexamine the assumptions that drive the why behind the way you’ve organized your ministry.

Examining underlying assumptions is a challenging venture for many of us.  I’ve written quiet a bit about it over on StrategyCentral.  You may want to take a look at these articles:

At the same time, it may be that the best thing you could do is get the perspective of some fresh eyes.  Click here to find out about scheduling a coaching call or a consulting visit.

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