How to Create Effective Group Life Strategy

A frequently cited assumption here is that there is no problem-free.  Every solution and every strategy comes with a set of problems.  Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.

No doubt by now, many of you are so used to reading that line, you use it yourself!  Good for you!

Today, I want to give you my latest learning on an idea you can use to create effective grouplife strategy and the best part is that it’s an extension of the no problem-free concept.  Here it is:

Todd Henry, author of  The Accidental Creative, notes two things that are important.  First, the type of person most likely to have a game-changing insight is what he calls a developer.  Developers “have a strong sense of the overall objective and have a sense of purpose and priorities…but instead of just plowing through the work with their noses down, purposefully approach each task or element of a project as an opportunity to develop new connections or potential ideas.”

Know any developers?  We all need to grow in this area.

Second, the most important work on a new project happens in the very beginning.  That’s where projects (or strategy development) gets positioned to move in the right direction.

Two Important Steps

Henry suggests two steps that make it easier to stay focused on the preferred outcomes:

Identify the problem set that comes with the project.  You can see how this fits.  I’ve suggested in the past that when you’re choosing between a couple solutions, just make a list of the problems that go with both and then choose the set of problems you’d rather have.  Here’s a real-life example we’re dealing with right now:

Example: We are in the ramp-up stage of a church-wide campaign and hope to launch 200 to 300 new small groups to go with the 200+ that we have right now.  We hope to sustain over 60% of the new groups we launch.  When we listed our problem set we came up with the following:

  • Many who turn in host sign-up forms never complete the training/orientation prerequisite and fail to begin.
  • Others complete the training/orientation but never have their first meeting, putting off inviting friends and filling their group.
  • Some meet 2 or 3 times, or even complete the initial study but don’t continue to the next study.

Second, identify 4 to 6 challenge questions that will help your team “surround the problems and ensure that all critical aspects are given adequate attention (p. 83).”  This is genius!  You can’t imagine how helpful this is until you try it.  Here’s an example of how we used the idea at Parkview to create a strategy to launch as many new groups as possible:

Example challenge questions:

  • How can we help host candidates (our term for those who turn in a sign-up card) take the very next step in the process? (notice, we did not say “complete the process”)
  • How can we help those who complete the training/orientation invite their first two members? (notice, we didn’t say, “fill their group”)
  • How can we help hosts have their first meeting? (notice, we didn’t say, “finish the study”)

Working through the first challenge question (How can we help host candidates take the next step?) we came up with several actionable ideas that could be incorporated into our system.  It was very exciting to see how this idea help our team quickly focus our minds on action steps.

In the section on this technique Henry quotes inventor Charles F. Kettering: “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.”  That is the understatement of the year!

What do you think?  Make sense?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and