Top 5 Signs Your Church is Designed to Underperform at Connection

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signpost forestYou may want to argue with me (and if you do, please use the comment section), but there are 5 easy to spot signs that your church is actually designed to underperform at connection.  What I mean by that is that whether your church is growing or not (doesn’t matter), there are several key factors that predetermine whether people are able to connect.  And very importantly, it’s been conclusively determined that people want to belong before they want to believe.

So what are the signs?  How can you tell if your church is actually designed to underperform at connection?  Here’s what I’ve found.

Top 5 Signs Your Church is Designed to Underperform at Connection:

  1. Your senior pastor is a reluctant champion of grouplife.  Churches where the senior pastor only infrequently talks about the importance of being connected are rarely, if ever, easy environments for connection to happen.  Without encouragement from the most visible person in the organization, it is just too easy to remain disconnected.  Trouble is, life-change most frequently happens where there is dialogue.  Life-change most frequently happens where people are known.  See Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups for more.
  2. Stories about the power of grouplife are rarely told.  If you want unconnected people to take a baby step and test-drive a group, there is nothing more compelling than a satisfied customer.  While we’re on the subject, stories told by satisfied customers (as opposed to stories about satisfied customers) are much more compelling.  It’s the reason marketers love testimonials.  See How to Develop Video or Live Testimony That Recruits Leaders or Members for more.
  3. Your church has no clear understanding of what a win is.  To borrow the phrase from the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, if it’s not clear to everyone that the goal is to be connected in a group where you can be known, challenged, loved, held accountable, forgiven, encouraged, etc., it will only happen for those people who instinctively gravitate toward community (You know who those people are.  They create groups and grouplife opportunities even without your help).  Everyone else will remain anonymous at their own peril…because they don’t know any better.  See Clarifying the Win in Your Small Group Ministry for more.
  4. Your church thinks programs instead of steps.  Again, to borrow from the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, there need to be easy steps that lead to connection.  If the hardest step for many people today is to walk into your auditorium for the first time, the next hardest step is to leave the auditorium to join a group in a strangers living room!  The steps that are created also need to be obvious.  They can’t be hard to find (like when you have a buffet style ministry and only one of the menu items leads to grouplife).  Finally, the steps you create need to be strategic; they need to lead in the right direction with wasted time wandering.  See Think Steps, Not Programs for more information.
  5. You spend too much time propping up existing groups and not enough time forming new groups.  Although counterintuitive to many, matchmaking (helping unconnected people find a spot in an existing group) is rarely productive.  The easiest time for the largest number of unconnected people to put their toe in the water is when new groups are formed.  Strategies like the Small Group Connection and a church-wide campaign (with the HOST strategy) allow new leaders to readily be identified.

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

Image by Jerry “Woody”

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  1. Will on April 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    The last two steps are our church’s problem. I’m working on moving from programs to steps. I guess I need to think about new groups as well. Whew! Lots to do!

  2. Anonymous on April 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

    That’s a key to moving forward! One small step at a time…


  3. Taka Iguchi on November 24, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Thanks Mark!

  4. markchowell on November 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Glad you found the article helpful Taka!