"What do you need to change about your small group ministry?"
That question is at the essence of the problem for many of us.
When we stop to think about...if we take the time to think about it...all of us almost always already have a pretty good idea about what needs to change about our small group ministries.
We just can't bring ourselves to make the change. It's just easier to pretend that it's okay. Or more to the point, we can't bring ourselves to have the first conversation(s) that lead to the change that needs to happen.
Can I give you my prescription?
Can I give you my prescription for change? Admittedly, there are times that I'm right there with you. That is, I know what needs to change but I'm not ready to do the first thing or two that will lead to change happening.
But, I still know the steps I need to take (and most of the time I take them quickly).
Here's my prescription:
First, identify the most important conversation(s) that must happen before you can begin to make the change.
Let's say you realize that in order for your small group ministry to flourish, one or more menu items must be eliminated (or at least positioned differently). That is, instead of promoting three ways an unconnected person can get connected, you'll now only promote ways to get connected to a new off-campus group.
What are the conversations that must happen before you can make that change? You already know what they are. Right?
The first step is to make a list of the people that need to be informed (or more likely, persuaded).
Second, beginning with the most influential person, make an appointment to have the conversation(s).
Note: I intentionally wrote "conversation(s)" because it will almost always take more than one conversation to effect any change.
Also, I believe it is important to start with the most influential person and in most cases, that is your senior pastor. In order to have confidence for the next conversation(s), you'll need to have already developed an understanding with the most influential person.
And it may take more than one conversation. It may take several tries to lay out your case and persuade them of the merits of the change you want to make.
And that's okay. Every step you're taking is moving you in the direction of the change.
Third, once you've developed the support of the most influential person, begin scheduling any other conversations that must happen.
Again, it may take more than one conversation. And frankly, the change you need to make may require developing a sequence of steps that lead in the direction of your preferred future.
For example, while you may need to eliminate one or more menu items, it may be easier (and still productive) to deemphasize them but at least for the time being continue to allow them to happen.
Note: Deemphasizing a menu option may include changing how you promote it, when and where it is offered, the cost to participate, etc.
Fourth, follow through on making the change you've identified and discussed.
Amazingly, many of us can actually point to changes that were discussed and even approved that never made it out of the conversation stage.
"Yeah, we've had all those conversations at least once, but we're still offering and promoting all of the menu items as if they are equally important."
Don't let that be your story! Once you've identified the change that needs to happen and had the conversations that must be had, follow through!
Fifth, monitor (and report) the impact of the change.
Whenever you make a change there will be both upsides and downsides. There will be verbal supporters and detractors. More importantly, there will be lead indicators that point to eventual success (or the absence of lead indicators that may point to the need for further adjustment).
It's important to carefully monitor the impact of change because the easiest thing to do, and the natural thing to do, is to revert back to the previous pattern.
In Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry I point out that the trajectory your small group ministry is currently on was established over a long time and is a deeply ingrained. Changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence.
The trajectory your small group ministry is currently on was established over a long time and is a deeply ingrained. Changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence. Click To Tweet
Finally, when you arrive at the first milestone, be sure and begin setting up the conversations that will lead to the next change that needs to be made.
The easiest course of action is to quit before you even begin. The next easiest course of action is to quit too soon. Remember, changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence!
The easiest course of action is to quit before you even begin. The next easiest course of action is to quit too soon. Remember, changing your trajectory requires intentionality, determination and persistence! Click To Tweet
Image by Felix Burton