2. Your vision MUST be to see every single individual in the church connected into a small group. Don’t move onto to the next point because you think that you’re already doing this. A lot of churches have this as their goal, but they’ve set the deadline five to six years down the road. I’m not talking about hitting this goal in five to six years, I’m talking about hitting it in the next five to six months.
If you seriously plan with this goal in mind, it will radically alter your prayers and approach. You will begin asking questions you never asked before…
How many people are connected in groups right now?
How many groups would we need to connect every single person in our church?
How many new people will we need to find to spearhead all of the new groups?
What tweaks do we need to make to our ministry model to make it possible to hit our goal?
Remember: Your present ministry structure creates the perfect conditions for the current outcomes you have. If you’re looking for a dramatic difference in results, you’ll need a dramatically different design.
3. The lead pastor MUST be the small group champion. Sorry for the buzz-kill, associate pastors, but it’s true. Sorry for the new plate to spin, lead pastors, but it’s true. You can always have a volunteer or staff pastor lead the charge behind-the-scenes, but if you want your entire church to mobilize into groups, they gotta hear it and feel it from their leader. This is the practical advice I give to lead pastors:
In the first week of a new groups launch find one small group to visit one time. At the next weekend service, take the first one to two minutes of your message talking about your experience.
4. Your groups can’t be hardcore without the core. If small groups and discipleship are going to break out in your church like gangbusters, the leadership core of the church must be all-in. In fact, without the core, things will just be hard.
Remember, it’s not the worship leader’s job to worship for the church. It’s also not the small group pastor’s job to do small groups for the church either. Jesus commanded all of us to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20). When the church sees buy-in from the influencers regarding the church’s discipleship philosophy, it will remove any confusion about what the priorities should be in their own life.
If you’re the point person for group life at your church, please don’t use #3 and #4 as the catalyst to tear your clothes and proclaim a holy rebuke. Use these insights as fuel for prayer and as conversation starters with key leaders who know your heart.
5. The end-game of small group discipleship is to send out disciple-makers. The end-game cannot simply be to get people connected to each other. Remember, we want to see people grow in our groups. Think about growth in your small group ministry in the following stages…
-> Seeing every single person connected in a group
—> Seeing people in groups grow from consuming to contributing
—–> Seeing disciple-makers raised up within groups and sent out to start new groups
This mindset can take time to cultivate but it’s an important one to maintain for kingdom discipleship. Not everyone in small groups will eventually lead their own group one day, but there should be a few people in each group that are in the process of being sent out to fulfill the mission of disciple-making. This dynamic not only facilitates future growth, it raises the sense of significance for each group and provokes other group members to have a higher vision for their own spiritual formation as well.
I pray that one or more of these five paradigms spawn fresh waves of thought, ideas and energy for you. Which one(s) stand out to you the most?
This article originally appeared here.