By Mark Howell, Pastor & Small Group Expert
We've talked many times about assumptions. If you've been along for much of this adventure, you've probably read more than your share of articles on assumptions. If the idea of assumptions is unfamiliar to you, I've linked to a few of my favorites below.
I'm thinking about my assumptions about small group ministry today because of a question a reader asked me recently. Their question was so obviously the wrong question that it caused to me to wonder why in the world they are doing what they're doing. You can ask the wrong question, you know. Albert Einstein famously said,
"If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes."
Identifying the right question is a critical skill. And that caused me to reflect on my assumptions.
Early on I looked for problem-free strategies. Eventually I realized there are no problem-free strategies. Every strategy, system and model comes with a unique set of problems. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have. See also, The Pursuit of Problem-Free.
Every delay at connecting them puts many of them in jeopardy. Putting off the connecting opportunity in order to line up some timing issue increases the likelihood that for certain unconnected people the window will close. See also,What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
I know this. And you know this. That's why we believe small groups must be prioritized. Circles, not rows are where life-change happens. See also,Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
This makes a safe and familiar on-campus first step out of the auditorium a key to connecting people. See also, How to Calm an Unconnected Person’s Second Greatest Fear.
Conversely, the people with the least connections inside the church have the most connections outside the church. This is an understanding that makes HOST a great idea. See also, Exponential Outreach.
In a Malcolm Gladwell sense, everyone can see very quickly who the leader should be. See also, How to Connect People No One Else is Connecting.
Even Jesus didn’t look for Jesus Jr. See also, Top 5 Signs Your Church Really Wants to Be a Church OF Groups.
I've longed believed the first part of this assumption. The second part is a more recent add-on that is a critical understanding. See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback's Leadership Development Pathway.
This makes coaching or mentoring an essential ingredient for any small group strategy. Coaching is only initially about teaching technique. It is primarily about doing TO and FOR the leaders whatever you want the leaders to do TO and FOR their members. See also, The End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure.
Prioritizing the needs of existing groups connects the fewest unconnected people. See also, Are You Prioritizing the Launch of New Groups?
The essence of the question was,
"Have you written anything on how to best connect people with (existing) leaders? One of my greatest issues right now is connecting people on a Sunday with (existing) leaders."
What makes that the wrong question? Easy. Emphasizing connecting unconnected people with existing leaders (who already have groups), leads to connecting the fewest unconnected people. Prioritizing the launch of new groups (via a small group connection, GroupLink, etc.) leads to the connecting the largest number of unconnected people.
Reprinted with permission by MarkHowellLive.com Mark is the Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. He's also the founder of SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services that help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries.