The "Elevator Pitch" in Small Group Ministry

You know the drill. You are waiting for an elevator, any elevator. The door opens; you walk in, face the door, press the button and stare at the door. Everyone does the same thing. Comedians have made acts out of the goofy behavior that happens in elevators. Something else also happens. It doesn’t have to do with human behavior or the people in an elevator, but the time that elapses in an elevator ride. It is called the elevator pitch.

If you are starting up a business and you are trying to get a person to invest into your new startup company, sometimes you are only going to get the amount of time as an elevator ride to state what you are trying to do, in a succinct enough way to capture their attention. Once you have stated “why” you are doing your start up in this elevator pitch, then and only then, will you get the chance (if the person is interested) to share more of “how” and “what” you will do. Simply put, an “Elevator Pitch” is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your company that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator.

So why do you need an elevator pitch for your Small Group Ministry? You are not seeking investors. Your ministry isn’t a startup. So why develop an elevator pitch? You may not be seeking investors for money, but you are seeking a different type of investor. The investor may be who you report to.

Maybe it’s your Lead Pastor.

Maybe it’s your next leader or Community Leader who helps you with the infrastructure.

In small group ministry you are always using relational capitol to get your ministry to the next phase.

What gets people interested in your ministry is your explanation to them. Most people start with “what” you want them to do or “how” you are going to accomplish your goal. But starting with “what” you have to offer or “how” you are going to accomplish your goal is the wrong place to start. Where you need to start is “why” you are doing your ministry. The “why” is your elevator pitch. If you can’t explain to people in a concise way, why in the world would they be willing to give you any part of their 168 hour week? Rick Warren gave me great advice when I came on staff of Saddleback Church 15 years ago. He said, if you can’t describe or draw your ministry on a napkin, it’s too complex.

We love the plans and details in ministry. We create the manuals and wow people with all our training and long range plans. We think people will soak that up, but in reality, it turns them away. If you want to build an army you need to be simple and clear. The details are needed, but not in the recruiting. So, what are the keys in developing your small group ministry “elevator pitch”?

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Steve Gladen
Steve Gladen has been on staff at Saddleback Church since 1998; he currently oversees the strategic launch and development of small groups at Saddleback as well as the staff of the Small Group Network. He has focused on small groups in several churches for almost 20 years. Steve oversees 2,500 adult small groups at Saddleback and loves seeing a big church become small through true community developed in group life. He has co-authored several books, including 250 Big Ideas for Small Groups, Building Healthy Small Groups in Your Church, Small Groups With Purpose, Leading Small Groups With Purpose, and Don't Lead Alone. Steve does consulting and seminars championing small groups and what it means to be Purpose Driven in a small-group ministry.