How do you know you have chosen the right small group system? Can you know? I think you probably can.
While there are at least half a dozen different small group systems, none of them are problem-free. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they'd rather have. See also, How to Choose a Small Group System or Model.
So...how do you know you have chosen the right small group system?
You know you have the right small group system when...
- ...its design is consistent with the business you are in. For example, if you claim to be in the disciple-making business, your system must be designed to make disciple-making an ordinary and everyday outcome. Pointing to the exceptions as evidence is not proof that you have the right system. See also, If I Was Starting Today and The First Question Every Small Group Pastor Must Answer.
- ...what you've predetermined you will call "success" is actually happening on a regular basis. If you've written down what you will call a win and it's actually happening, then you've probably chosen the right small group system. If what you've predetermined you will call success only happens on the whiteboard when you're casting vision and dreaming about your preferred future...there's a pretty good chance you've chosen the wrong system. See also, If I Was Starting Today, Part 3 and The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.
- ...it effectively engages the kind of people you have identified as your primary customers. For example, if you claim to be about connecting unconnected people your system will be designed to keep their interests at the center of the bullseye. If you regularly choose study topics that appeal to the appetites of the already connected (and already convinced), there is something wrong with your system. See also, Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer.
- ...your percentage connected is gaining on (or has surpassed) 100%. If life-change happens best in circles, not in rows, then your system must be designed to connect unconnected people at a faster clip than your crowd is growing. Is that not self-evident? To use Andy Stanley's line, "Your ministry (your small group system) is perfectly designed to produce the results you're currently experiencing." See also, 5 Keys to Taking New Ground in 2014.
- ...finding enough small group leaders is not a barrier to growth. This is a test that must be run on small group systems. If you "love your system" but struggle to find enough qualified leaders to launch a sufficient number of new groups, it is not an unsolved mystery. There is a direct link between they system you are using and your ability to identify, recruit and develop leaders. See also, Is An Artificial Barrier Limiting Growth in Your Small Group Ministry.
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