At the 2018 SoCal “Lobby Gathering” a few weeks ago (Register for 2019), I had the privilege of leading a conversation on developing a church-wide small group culture. It was great to sit with other small group point people, and listen to where they are in the process, but more specifically, what was working and what mall steps they had taken.
If you were not able to join us at the Lobby, or even if you were at the Lobby, but attended a different table time, I want to share with you 5 takeaways.
- Support and Pray for Senior Leaders. This should go without saying, but, for me, it is all too easy to blame my senior leader for the lack of small groups. We have all been there. But instead of griping and complaining, we all need to be praying for our senior leader.
- Understand your Church Culture. Know when people are most apt to join a small group. Know what will or won’t work in your area. Know your audience. We can come up with the best plan, but if it fails to account for the uniqueness of our place, then the plan will inevitably fail.
- Have easy on-ramps. Where, how and when can people connect and get plugged-in to a small group? We have those formal times to sign up, but I need to think through the other 45 weeks of the year. These could be men’s/women’s events. One idea that was shared that I particularly loved was during the summer, one church has groups that form around shared passions, like motorcycling or quilting. These last only for the summer, but they are a means to get unconnected people a little more connected.
- Be clear on what a small group is. A lot of this will depend on your church culture, but make sure you and other staff are clear on what is and probably more importantly what isn’t a small group.
- Always keep the end goal in mind. Again, what I am about to say is obvious, but it needs reminding. Participating in a small group is not the end in and of itself, spiritual transformation is. We don’t invite people to participate because they don’t have enough to do already, but because we think it is the best path towards becoming more Christ-like.
None of this is probably new to you, but sometimes being reminded of the basics is helpful. Don’t overcomplicate it. But also realize that developing a church-wide culture of small groups is a long process and takes a lot of little steps.
Q What have you found helpful as you have sought to develop a church-wide culture of small groups?