Recently I was in a room full of some very experienced, very sharp minds when it comes to starting new groups. Admittedly, they were attempting to use the word “groups” to characterize both on-campus Sunday school classes and off-campus small groups.
At one point, a panel of four experts talked about their own personal experiences in starting groups. Imagine my consternation as I listened to their stories of starting one new group last year. One. Another expert talked about starting a new group every year for the last several. I’m not making this up.
It was a very frustrating experience. Honestly, it was fascinating and frustrating at the same time. I found myself equally fascinated by some of their conclusions and frustrated by some of those same conclusions.
At one point, the moderator asked everyone to take a few minutes and share with those around you “what you think are the biggest obstacles in the way of starting groups.” Again, it was frustrating and fascinating.
The Biggest Obstacles:
Keeping in mind that my answers describe the biggest obstacles standing in the way of both on-campus and off-campus efforts, here’s what I’ve got:
• The misplaced priority given to on-campus strategies. The most influential people need to become location agnostic. Why? I’ve long believed adults not currently in an on-campus experience are unlikely to add another 60 to 75 minutes and unchurched adults are extremely unlikely to embrace a three-hour Sunday morning. I often note how common it is for most of us to watch a 60-minute program in 42 minutes (DVR).
• The insistance that the best leaders have résumés. As long as we pursue the notion that leading a group has anything to do with experience … we’re going to have a hard time overcoming this obstacle.
• The illusion of knowledge. The sense we’ve figured out how to do it, we know best, is a massive obstacle. The only way to break through is to admit the very best ways to launch new groups hasn’t yet been discovered.
• The lure of the status quo. This is the way we do it here. This is how groups happen here. We are a Sunday school church. We are a small group church. Unless we can break free from the shackles of the status quo … we will not be able to beat this one.