I’m reading a great book right now by Nelson Searcy called Activate. It’s about how his church has structured Small Groups. It’s been a paradigm shifter as I looked at what we’ve been doing compared to what he’s been doing.
One of the paragraphs opens with, ‘”One hallmark of growing churches is that they are not afraid to ask, “How can we do it better?” That’s the only way you will improve.”‘ Honestly the idea and thought of change is daunting! But a good leader never lets the work be the reason that they don’t do something. Hard work is not our enemy…lack of change is! If change makes us better, then by all means, let us throw off our former way of doing things and jump in with both feet.
Our challenge as a startup church has been two fold…we have been a smaller church that is growing consistently. Both of those issues have been a small groups nightmare. Small churches have less options to plug people into where they can find a group of people that they actually want to connect with for 18 months. Also, with consistent growth that means that people are always wanting a small group, but with the length of commitment and our structure, it’s been a big step to get into a small group.
At this point my goal is to create a system where more people can connect with more people more quickly. In church life, one of the most important things is that people begin to develop friendships. They don’t have to be deep, profound, intimate relationships, just people that they look forward to seeing on Sundays and who they can have a good conversation with. Those deeper friendships can come out of that, but what I’ve found with small groups is that those type of relationships cannot be cultivated by a program.
This has been a tension for me as a small group leader. If the purpose of small groups is to have intimate friendships with the 12 people in my group, we are somewhat failing. I like everybody in my small group, but they are not necessarily the deepest relationships in my life…and that’s not bad! We connected randomly at a Grouplink event. It’s a bit much to now assume that they will be my soulmates. What we have succeeded at…I have LOVED getting to know each of them. I am so thankful for our friendship and on Sundays I look forward to saying hi and catching up on their week. If that is the goal of small groups, we knocked it out of the park!
I will continue to blog about this book for a couple of days, but that’s my first paradigm shift. I’m sure that some small groups will randomly become the best of friends for the rest of their lives, but probably most groups will just enjoy getting to know some new people and growing together in study, serving, and prayer. And that’s a win.