If you've ever done any cooking, you know that some recipes look good on paper or look good in the picture, but don't turn out to be as good as they look! They're a waste of time and leave a bad taste in your mouth! Sometimes recipes that don't turn out well have mistakes in them. And sometimes they just have weird ingredients.
6 weird ingredients in recipes for stalled small group ministries:
1. New small group leaders must be apprentices first.
You can probably see the logic behind this one.
You may even be including this ingredient in your recipe.
Don't miss the fact that it makes a requirement out of something that only works sometimes as a group multiplication strategy. Apprenticing is a wonderful leadership development practice that doesn't always lead to more groups.
At the same time, requiring apprenticeship first overlooks what probably is the largest pool of potential leaders in your church (those who are not yet in a group).
2. Small group leaders must be church members.
Interest in church membership is decreasing every year. Why establish as a prerequisite something that unnecessarily shrinks the pool of potential leaders. Better to make it easy to begin and nearly automatic to develop (and, if membership is emphasized in your church, make membership an aspect of development as a leader).
3. Elders as small group coaches.
Not to say some elders may have the characteristics of an effective small group coach. They might. But having the maturity needed to be selected as an elder doesn't mean they have what it really takes to be a small group coach.
Select elders biblically and identify and recruit coaches wisely.
Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first (and that is determined by your coaching structure).
4. Small groups only meet on Wednesday nights.
Establishing a single night (whether it's Wednesday or Sunday or whenever it is) misses out on the full potential of making groups available to meet the needs of unconnected people.
It's easy to see where the original logic comes from (often replacing a Wednesday night or Sunday night program), but it misses the opportunity to offer groups that meet everywhere and all the time.
5. Calling everything a small group.
This is a truly weird ingredient.
Calling everything a group is almost always a copout designed to eliminate confusion about the best next step.
The leading advocates of calling everything a group are often guilty of decisions that sidestep truth-telling (i.e., "We're promoting off-campus groups because they make it easier to connect more unconnected people.").
Building a thriving small group ministry requires the creation of next steps that are easy, obvious and strategic and the elimination of steps that lead anywhere else.
6. Small groups offered "for those who want to go deeper."
When small groups are offered as an optional menu item for those who want to go deeper or for those "who want more," it is clear to unconnected people that groups are not essential. Unless you believe that life-change happens in rows, this is a recipe for a stalled small group ministry.
See also, What's Better? Rows or Circles?
What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.