4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Small Group System Is Broken

4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Small Group System is Broken

You know how certain things in life are tell-tale signs something is wrong? For example, when your car’s bouncing down the road and the tires are wearing unevenly…it’s a tell-tale sign that your car’s wheels need to be aligned. Or when your thermostat is set on 72 but it’s 82 in the house and the air conditioner is blowing hot air. Or how about when your debit card is declined the morning after your paycheck is deposited?

Tell-tale signs.

Did you know there are tell-tale signs that your small group system is broken?

4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Small Group System Is Broken:

Your total number of groups is remaining the same year after year.

Your total number of groups is remaining the same year after year. If your total number of groups isn’t growing, it’s a tell-tale sign something is broken. Even if your church’s attendance is flatlined, a growing total number of groups is an indication of a healthy small group system.

A flatlined total number of groups may indicate a number of issues:

  • You are simply adding new members to existing groups (instead of focusing on launching new groups).
  • As existing group leaders move away or “take a break” you’re finding a replacement (instead of letting the group die).
  • You haven’t taught your group leaders to “fish for new members” themselves (and they’re relying on you to send them replacements.

See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups and Great Question: How Do I Train Leaders to Add New Members?

Your percentage connected remains the same year after year.

Your percentage connected remains the same year after year. If your percentage connected is not increasing year after year, it is a tell-tale sign something is broken (or inadequately designed). Even if your church’s attendance is increasing, a healthy small group system (or the right small group system) will allow your percentage connected to increase year after year.

A flatlined (or decreasing) percentage connected my indicate:

  • Your menu of belong and become options is too broad and needs to be pared down (to narrow the focus to only the best option(s).
  • Your system is inadequate to the challenge and simply isn’t designed to expand quickly enough.

See also, What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?

You’re not sustaining the new groups you are launching.

You’re not sustaining the new groups you are launching. When you are launching new groups but you’re not sustaining a high enough percentage of them, it’s a tell-tale sign something is broken.

A low percentage of new groups sustained may indicate:

  • You’re not providing appropriate support for new group leaders (i.e., you don’t have an effective coaching structure in place).
  • The method you’re using to launch new groups is poorly designed (i.e., a flaw in the launching strategy may actually predict poor affinity or unreasonable expectations).

See also, 5 Steps to Sustaining the New Groups You Launch

Groups members show few signs of life-change.

Groups members show few signs of life-change. It is a deeply held assumption that the optimal environment for life-change is a small group. If life-change is not happening in a meaningful way (and stories of life-change are hard to find), it is a tell-tale sign something is broken.

A lack of life-change evidence may indicate:

  • A poorly designed method of gathering stories.
  • A lack of intentionality in doing TO and FOR your leaders what you want them to do TO and FOR their members.
  • A laissez-fare attitude or lack of intentionality in guiding the selection of group curriculum.
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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com.