A few months back, near the beginning of last years NBA season, there was a running dialogue about “Who’s on your NBA Mount Rushmore?” Mount Rushmore you remember is a massive sculpture carved into the side of a South Dakota mountain featuring the heads of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The “who’s on your Mount Rushmore?” question made me think about who would be on my small group ministry Mount Rushmore.
The first face on my small group ministry Mount Rushmore has got to be Carl George. No question. The father of the Meta Church model and author of a number of books including Prepare Your Church for the Future and Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership, I have learned a lot from Carl.
Here are 5 things I learned from Carl George:
- The importance of span of care. Carl pointed out that “everyone needs to be cared for someone but no one can take care of more than about 10. Drawing this true truth of life from Jethro’s counsel to Moses in Exodus 18, this is a foundational understanding about the care aspect of coaching. The attempt to provide care for too many is one of the most common rookie small group pastor mistakes.
- The power of apprenticing for leadership development. Every leader ought to be trained to be intentional about identifying, recruiting and developing an apprentice. This is about replacing yourself and it is about making disciples. Imagine if every small group pastor, every coach, and every small group leader was developing a legitimate apprentice, someone who was learning to do the job. What a concept. Sometimes apprenticing is described primarily as a group multiplication strategy. I see it as a powerful leadership development practice. See also, 5 Small Group Ministry Myths that Need Busting and Small Group Ministry Roadblock #5: A Leadership Development Disconnect.
- Resources are finite and wise leaders allocate them to the critical growth path. Grabbing hold of this conclusion and defining the critical growth path are elusive to some. Still, this is an essential idea for effective ministry. Missing this mark leads to diffused impact. See also, Ten Ideas that Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry.
- The size of the harvest is more important than the size of the building. A thriving small group ministry makes it possible to connect far beyond your average adult worship attendance. Every church has an almost unlimited seating capacity once every home, workplace and third place comes into play. Further, as we slip further into the 21st century it becomes more evident every day that we are nearing the time when it will be far easier to say “come on over” than “come with me to church.” See also, 5 New Assumptions as I Step Further into the 21st Century.
- Churches of the future will be committed to making more and better disciples. It will not be about attracting a crowd or building a larger space to hold the crowd. It will be about what you do with the crowd. “Making more and better disciples” is a common phrase today. I first heard the line at a Fuller Church Growth conference in 1992. The speaker was quoting Carl. I have been captivated by that mission ever since. See also, Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship.
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