How To Connect People No One Else Is Connecting

One of the most repeated quotes right now is the great Craig Groeschel line that “if you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you need to do things no one else is doing.” I remember where I was when I heard him say that. I think I’ll always remember that moment. Honestly, it was like remembering where you were when JFK was shot.

It was a staggering statement. It made immediate sense. It was the epitome of a no-brainer.

Can I tell you something? The basic idea is equally true if you replace the word “reach” with the word “connect.” Try it with me: “If you want to connect people no one else is connecting, you need to do things no one else is doing.”

How’s that feel to you? Does it ring true? I hope it does because the secret to connecting beyond the usual suspects is in cultivating the willingness to try and fail, to change a variable in the existing equation, and to try completely new strategies.

Here are the four keys to connecting people no one else is connecting:

  1. Develop a conviction that there is no problem-free strategy or solution. Beyond that, own the idea that the pursuit of problem-free inhibits and prevents more ministry than anything else.
  2. Cultivate the willingness to try and fail. Redefine failure as fear of failure. Adopt the attitude that in failing faster you’re moving closer to a winning strategy.
  3. Always look at the individual variables within a working strategy (or even a sputtering strategy). Many times tinkering with one variable is all it takes to turn failure into success or marginal success into a huge win.
  4. Experiment continually with new possibilities knowing that the best way of connecting unconnected people hasn’t been tried yet. Do this even when you’re existing strategies are working because you know you’ve not yet connected everyone.

Exhibit A:

When Saddleback began experimenting with the Small Group Connection strategy, everyone thought they were crazy. The idea that a group of relative strangers could effectively choose a leader from amongst themselves after only an hour seemed outrageous (of course, that was before Malcolm Gladwell explained the sociological phenomenon in his book Blink). The willingness to try a new idea resulted in the launching of over 800 groups and became the primary way that Saddleback launched groups.

Exhibit B:

Although the Small Group Connection strategy was working very well, an unprecedented opportunity to connect people emerged with the 40 Days of Purpose campaign in 2002. The number of unconnected people at Saddleback exceeded the number who could be connected using a “come to an event” strategy like the Connection. The HOST strategy was the result. Not because Connection didn’t work. Rather, HOST presented a new opportunity to connect the friends and neighbors who wouldn’t come to an event.

Exhibit C:

Very few men’s small groups at Parkview (less than 5). Most meet on campus. What if we announce that we’re going to be at three restaurants near three of the train stations on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday? Could we start new men’s groups if we plan to meet closer to where the day begins for the unconnected men in our church? Here’s what we know: Day one produced 6 guys who needed to be connected. What will tomorrow yield? Stay tuned.  

by Mark Howell
StrategyCentral.org
Mark Howell is the founder of StrategyCentral.org and SmallGroupResources.net.  He is a regular contributor to the Pastor’s Toolbox, blogs at MarkHowellLive.com, and consults with churches in the area of strategic focus and alignment.  You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @markchowell>.
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