What Step Are You Missing? (and how much is it costing you?)

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Over the years my philosophy of ministry and my small group strategy have been shaped by a set of ideas and a set of assumptions.

I review both lists from time to time and have consistently chosen to stay the course for another season.

See also, 10 IDEAS THAT SHAPE MY PHILOSOPHY OF MINISTRY and 10 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Ministry Strategy.

Read this section in order to think well about what step you might be missing:

One of the big ideas that has shaped my philosophy of ministry is an understanding of "crowd to core." Rick Warren’s relatively simple metaphor expresses a profound ministry concept. Instead of pouring everything into the most committed members with the expectation that they will then go out (core to crowd), crowd to core focuses on building next steps that will help the crowd move toward Christ. See also Next Steps for Everyone…and First Steps for Their Friends.

For this idea to truly be effective, there must be a path that leads from the "crowd" (and I would argue it must begin in the "community") with sequential steps (that are easy, obvious and strategic) that lead all the way into the core.

I find it helpful to refer to diagram when explaining this concept. The simple diagram to the left is intended to illustrate several key understandings. First, the "Community" represents everyone in your area who has never been to your church. In our area that is about 300,000 people.

The "Crowd" is the number of people who consider your church to be their church, but are unconnected to your church other than when they attend a weekend service (i.e., Christmas and Easter?). If your church is like most churches, most of the people in your database are actually in the crowd. For example, our Easter or Christmas Eve attendance is often in the 14,000 range, but our average weekend attendance is about 6,000 and there are about 3,500 men and women connected in a meaningful way. That means somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 adults are in our crowd number.

The "Congregation" represents the number of truly connected people, giving regularly and engaged in ministry (in the neighborhood of 3,500 men and women).

The "Committed" are men and women who are truly connected, giving generously and actively leading or engaged in ministry.

And the "Core" are men and women who are connected, giving sacrificially and actively leading or engaged in ministry.

See also, Crowd-to-Core: An Essential Understanding at the Heart of My Strategy.

What steps are you missing?

Preliminary reading out of the way, think about your next step pathway.

Keeping in mind that every step on your next step pathway must be easy, obvious, and strategic...is that a true statement?

To be an easy step, it needs to be doable and not require a heroic Olympian kind of leap. Are your steps easy?

To be an obvious step, it needs to be easily found by an ordinary person. Shouldn't require Sherlock Holmes level of sleuthing to discover what's next.

To be a strategic step, your steps need to only lead in the direction you want people to go (progressively in the direction of the core) and not into a program or ministry that is a holding pen and not a step (think about the legacy ministries that are currently on your become and belong menu).

See also, Who Designs Your Next Steps? Starry-Eyed Dreamers or Steely-Eyed Pragmatists?

What are your missing steps costing you?

When your steps are not easy, obvious and strategic, you shouldn't expect the men and women in the community and crowd to make it into your congregation and core. It is an unreasonable expectation.

When you have missing steps in your pathway, you should expect to have a LOT of men and women who are stuck and not growing.

When you think about your church, what are your missing steps costing you?

Would this help you?

How to Design NEXT STEPS and FIRST STEPS is a four session mini-course that will help you rethink your current plan and reimagine a more effective and more productive next step strategy.

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