hat keeps you from launching more new groups? A few days ago Thom Rainer posted an article that asked a great question: Why don’t more churches have a strategy to start new groups. Good stuff. Can’t wait to see his take. I think the answer to the question is actually pretty simple. Most churches don’t launch new groups because they’ve accepted as gospel some tall tales and downright whoppers.
Here are a 5 of the biggest tall tales and downright whoppers:
- We don’t have qualified leaders ready to start new groups. This is a very common rationalization, but the truth is almost always that we’ve made the barrier to entry too high. Rather than rejecting candidates who aren’t Jesus Jr., why not make it easy to say “yes” and easy to take a first step? Remember, Jesus began with the B team. His earliest recruits were available because they weren’t already busy following another rabbi. See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar and Crowd Friendly Leader Qualification.
- The potential leaders we have won’t commit to leading. The truth? We’ve made our entry-level expectations too high! Make a one year commitment? Leaders need to be members and tithers? Attend a weekly or monthly leaders’ meeting? How about making the first step into leading an easy one? How about making the first step a toe-in-the-water instead of a cannonball? 6 weeks instead of year? A test-drive that eventually leads to a purchase? See also, Small Group Host Expectations andSmall Group Leader Expectations.
- We’ve tried to launch new groups and failed. Yes, but how did you try before? Granted, but what strategy did you use to launch new groups? Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” The particular methods and strategies used in the attempt to launch new groups must be evaluated. Conducting an “autopsy without blame” after key initiatives is an essential step. See also, Innovation Step One: Acknowledge What’s Not Working and Resolve to Become an Innovator.
- We need to fill our existing groups before we start new groups. This compulsion is a major strategic misstep. Nothing could be further from the truth. Group leaders and even group members must be trained to be on the lookout for new members and fill their own groups. New groups are essential if you want to connect unconnected people. There is a reason they haven’t joined one of your existing groups. Whether it is a good reason is irrelevant. The point is, we must have a bias toward new groups if we want to connect unconnected people. See also, A Bias Toward New Groups, Top 10 Ways to Find New Group Members and 5 Assumptions That Stunt Small Group Ministry Growth.
- Our existing group leaders expect us to promote their groups first (or equally). This is a dangerous expectation that underlies an even more perilous assumption. The assumption? That every program or opportunity is due equal time. The reality is that wise leaders must narrow the focus and promote the path that leads most directly to the desired destination. It’s been demonstrated convincingly that providing more options actually leads to fewer decisions. See also, Narrowing the Focus Leads to a Church OF Groups and Is an Artificial Barrier Limiting Growth in Your Small Group Ministry.