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10 Ways to Break Free from the Small Group Pastor Rut

Landing and staying in a rut is very easy to do, especially if you’re a small group pastor.   Climbing out is not that hard, but you’ll need to know what to do. Let me suggest ten possibilities for “rut escape.”
1. Attend a conference. Getting out of everydayness and spending time listening to other visionary pastors reinvigorates the heart and motivates us to dream again.
2. Join a network of small group pastors. Spending time with other small group pastors talking about, debating, evaluating, and getting input from them concerning your ministry is definitely a rut cruncher.
Steve Gladen from Saddleback Church has a nationwide network of small group pastors who meet together. To join a network near you just click on this sentence.
 3. Go on a spiritual enrichment retreat. Getting away from the ecclesiastical rat race, slowing your pace, and focusing solely on Christ and His love for you will not only get you out of the rut, it will elevate you into His presence where something miraculous can take place in your spirit.
 4. Lead a conference about small groups for another church or organization. I have learned that leading a small group conference is one of the most invigorating experiences a small group pastor can have. It reminds he/she of the role they fill in the Kingdom, sets them to rethinking the difference small groups can make in people’s lives, and reminds them that the vision and strategy God has given them is vital to God and the church they serve.
 5. Sit in on another churches small group leadership team meeting. Sitting in on another small group pastor’s small group leadership team meeting is an energizing experience. You will see passion in others that will spill over onto you and you’ll take that passion back to your own team.
 6. Evaluate your own group ministry with the mindset that changes will be made. Oftentimes we not only feel like we’re in a rut, the ministry actually is in a rut. Get your leadership team together and evaluate the ministry alerting them to the fact, changes are coming. Simply knowing changes are in the works and creating action plans will enliven the heart and, as the new work is being accomplished, energize you and your leadership team for long periods of time.
 7. Help individuals you have placed in high levels of leadership that are keeping your vision from becoming a reality to find a more fulfilling ministry to serve in. ‘Nuff said.
8. Meet with or do a conversation via skype or phone with someone you consider a small group guru. Make the primary part of your conversation trends in small group life and how you can implement some of those in your setting.
9. Read entire books of the New Testament in one setting viewing these historical moments and doctrinal expectations through the eyes of a first century believer who was leading a house church. I assure you, there’s no way you can remain in the rut, the paradigm of group life you’ll encounter will set your heart on adventuresome ground.
10. Set aside alone time to listen to God for direction for your ministry. Find a location where you will not be interrupted with only a pad of paper and pen in hand. Write down anything that you discern might be from Him.

Remember this… the rut is an option, not a reality. You simply need to be willing to exert the energy to do one or a few of the suggestions noted above. 

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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.