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4 Keys to Connecting People No One Else Can

“To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.”

That was the line I heard from Craig Groeschel at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit in 2008. I remember where I was sitting in the Bayside Community Church auditorium when I heard the line. I can’t tell you anything else I heard at the Leadership Summit that year, but I’ll never forget that single line.

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one rocked by the line. Andy Stanley referenced it in a memorable Drive Conference session. You can listen to him recount its impact right here: What no one else is doing.

“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing.” If there was ever an idea that was self-evident, that was and is one.

To connect people no one else is connecting

When I heard the line, it was only a short leap to rearrange it this way:

To connect people no one else is connecting, we must do things no one else is doing.”

And like Groeschel’s original line, what this means is that simply improving what we’re already doing won’t get it done. In the same way moving from pews to theater seating and from a pipe organ to a band left many still unreached, so it is that improving the way we train small group leaders or installing a better online small group finder will still leave many unconnected.

What will enable our small group ministries to connect people no one else is connecting? Doing things that no one else is doing.

How can we crack the code? How can we develop the new ideas that will connect people no one else is connecting? Here are what I believe are four keys.

Four keys to connecting people no one else is connecting:

  1. Develop a conviction that there is no problem-free strategy or solution.  Don’t miss this important concept. As long as you are hunting for a problem-free solution you will be procrastinating the moves you need to make. Until you abandon the search for problem-free you will be quick to delay decisions that ought to be made. You must develop a conviction that there is no problem-free. Beyond that, you must own the idea that the pursuit of problem-free inhibits and prevents more ministry than anything else. See also, Breaking: No Problem-Free Small Group System, Model or Strategy.
  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. I lovethe thinking of David Kelley, founder of legendary design firm, IDEO: “At IDEO, we believe that enlightened trial and error beats the planning of flawless intellects. In other words, we fail faster to succeed sooner. The reason is simple: the best solutions to most problems are rarely the most obvious.” See also, Beware of the Lure of the Status Quo.
  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. Not a failure by any stretch of the imagination, Saddleback expanded its small group impact exponentially in 2014 by adding a simple phrase to the HOST ask made in their church-wide campaign. The phrase? “If you have a couple friends you can host a group.”  See also, Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.
  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. See also,The Unexpected Twist in Saddleback’s Exponential Growth Formula.

Want to connect people no one else is connecting? You must do things no one else is doing.  


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Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, 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 ChurchCentral.com.