5 Signs It’s Time to Reroute Your Small Group Ministry

5 Signs It’s Time to Reroute Your Small Group Ministry

GPS systems have been around for some time now. These days you’ve got one in your pocket whether you use an Android or an iPhone.

The first time I used a Garmin (GPS) I was driving from Charlotte, N.C., to Abingdon, Va. My commuter flight from Charlotte had been cancelled and the next flight would have meant a late start at the church I was to visit the next day. My host said, “Just rent a car and drive over. It’s about a two and half hour drive. Get a GPS…it’ll make it easier.”

So far, so good. It was easy to turn on the GPS and enter the address of the church in Abingdon. Looked like it’d be simple. Only two problems. Didn’t have a map of the area and didn’t know you could set the GPS for “Interstate Highways.”

If it had been a 48 Hours or Primetime segment the narrator would have said, “Mark couldn’t have known he was about to take a windy, 28-mile detour through moonshine country and the Appalacian Mountains.”

Everything was fine for the first 45 minutes…and then I saw the first detour sign. Of course, GPS systems don’t know anything about detours. And I didn’t know how to turn the voice off…so for the next hour I heard, “Recalculating. Make a u-turn in 100 feet.” What was supposed to take two and half hours took almost four. And the movie Deliverance came to my mind more than once.

If You’re Hearing “Rerouting”

It could be that you’re beginning to hear “Rerouting…” from your GroupLife System. Here are five signs you really should consider rerouting:

Five signs you really should consider rerouting

  • You’re adding new groups every year but your “adult percentage connected” (number of adults in groups divided by average weekend adult worship attendance) is dropping or remaining the same. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected? and The “Catch a Moving Train” Scenario for more.
  • You’re not identifying leaders fast enough to meet demand and the stack of member sign-up cards continues to grow. See also, 3 Strategies that Launch New Groups in Waves.
  • You’re connecting only the usual suspects (the core, committed and inside edge of the congregation and very few from the outside edge of the congregation, crowd and community. Since die hard fans of community will connect even when you do nothing to encourage them, your system may need rerouting in favor of a strategy designed to connect unconnected people. See also, Top 10 Ways to Launch New Groups.
  • You struggle to find any real stories of life-change when you’re looking for testimonies. Long term groups without intentionality tend to function like zombies (i.e., dead and don’t know it). Newer groups formed purely for connection without discipleship intentionality share stories of comfort and family, but not life-change. See also, Can You Tell If Your Group Might Be a Zombie.
  • Members of your coaching team are very fulfilled (love coming to your meetings) but aren’t very fruitful (reporting only ineffective attempts to connect with their leaders). See also, Three Keys to a Coaching Tune-Up.

These are just a few of the most important signs that your grouplife system may need to reroute. The key to remember is that “your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re currently experiencing” (Andy Stanley). Don’t like the results? Hearing “rerouting”? Might be time to reroute your system.

This article originally appeared here.

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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.