Yesterday I posted 11 things that keep groups from working. A leadership principle that I embraced many years ago is this one, “Never point out a problem if you aren’t going to follow by stating a solution to that problem.” I must confess, I hadn’t thought about this principle in relation to yesterday’s blog post until someone I respect greatly, Mark Howell
, retweeted my tweet announcing yesterday’s blog post then went on to say, “thought-provoking list that begs solution.” Thanks for the reminder, Mark.
Below you’ll find an over-simplified solution/solutions for each of the problems stated yesterday.
PROBLEM: The senior pastor isn’t in a group
SOLUTION: 1) Meet with the senior pastor and share the importance of the senior pastor being in a group, that, if the senior pastor isn’t in a group others in the congregation will be less motivated to be in a group, 2) Invite the senior pastor to join the group you or someone you know the senior pastor admires leads, 3) Speak to the senior pastor about forming a group and that you realize the senior pastor needs to be able to choose the people who will be in that group, 4) Say nothing to the senior pastor.
Obviously, speaking to the senior pastor about being in a group can be an awkward conversation. Before choosing any of the top three options above, ask yourself this question, “Is my talking with the senior pastor about this going to motivate the senior pastor to join a group or is it going to create ongoing tension between us?” If the conversation is going to create ongoing tension, you probably don’t have a senior pastor who is going to join a group, no matter how important it may be. If this is the case, PRAY!
PROBLEM: Small group leaders don’t know what their small group is suppose to accomplish in each group member’s life.
SOLUTION: Conclude what group life is to accomplish in the life of each person who is in a group, then instill that fact into the life of each small group coach and leader. Be careful… we may say the goal is to “make a mature disciple,” when the truth is we create a safe place to do life together. Or we may say that our goal is to instill the basic doctrines of Scripture into each life when the truth is we create a place for people to discuss what the Bible has to say about the issues they struggle with daily. We may say that our goal is for every group member is to be missional when in fact, we teach group leaders to focus on creating community more than training them to reach out to those in need of Christ.
Bottom line… Once you determine what the group is to accomplish in each group member’s life you must then instill that fact again and again, then train the leaders to do the things that will create the outcome you’re looking for.
PROBLEM: Small group leaders aren’t well trained
SOLUTION: Train them well. ‘Nuff said.
PROBLEM: Small group leaders have no one to turn to to find answers to their leadership questions.
SOLUTION: Make sure your leaders can find the answers they need when they need them. A few options, 1) Utilize a coaching system, 2) Get a subscription to Rightnow.org
, 3) Teach your group members to search for answers on YouTube
. Surprisingly, there are many small group leader training videos on YouTube, 4) Make group leaders aware of some blogs that are very practical and full of blog posts for small group leaders (not small group pastors). Some good options are, Small Group Leadership
by Mike Mack, Connecting in Communities
by Eddie Mosley, Mark Howell Live
by Mark Howell, and Heather Zempel Live
by Heathar Zempel, and this one.
PROBLEM: The small group pastor and the small group coaches aren’t praying for the small group leaders
SOLUTION: 1) Model it, 2) Start each meeting doing it, 3) Remind coaches and small group leaders often of the importance of this via email, text, etc… 4) Periodically email a prayer you’re praying for the coaches and/or leaders to every coach and leader. This group email will be huge in making prayer for one another part of the small group ministry’s culture.
PROBLEM: Small group leaders aren’t praying for small group members
SOLUTION: See list above
PROBLEM: The small group leader confuses a group spending time together and meeting one another’s needs with making mature disciples.
SOLUTION: Conclude what is necessary to make a mature disciple, train your leaders to be about that, and remind them often to give their time and attention to the things that make a mature disciple. Be careful, in the process don’t demean the importance time together and meeting one another’s needs. This is a major part of the disciple making process.
PROBLEM: No one person is given oversight of the group
SOLUTION: Be very specific to choose a leader/host. 1) In writing, on line, in the worship guide, etc… note who the person who spearheads the group is. What is seen in writing is embraced as fact. 2) When a story is being revealed about a particular group from the pulpit or in a video in the weekend worship experience be sure to state who the leader/host of the group is.
Keep this in mind… It doesn’t matter what term you use for the point person of a particular small group. It does matter that people realize that someone has oversight of the group. Anything that accomplishes much has someone spearheading that thing.
PROBLEM: There are too many people in the group
SOLUTION: Determine the optimal number for what the group is trying to accomplish (making disciples, learning the Bible, restoring emotional brokenness, etc…) then limit the group to that number of people.
PROBLEM: A discussion based Bible study is actually a night of shared ignorance
SOLUTION: Be certain the person facilitating the conversation knows what God is unearthing in the passage being discussed. It is that person’s responsibility to be certain the biblical truth finds its way to the forefront during the conversation. As I’ve said many times… Lots of ideas can circle the runway but truth has to land.
PROBLEM: The leader of the group doesn’t know what the passage of scripture being discussed really means.