Of all the areas that will contribute to a healthy church, small groups are one of the most impactful. In fact, in the book Natural Church Development, under the section of Holistic Small Groups, you will discover an interesting factoid based on the data measuring over 170 variables. The most important element contributing to the growth of the church, based on over 4.2 million survey answers, is the multiplication of small groups. It is the environment where all of the elements of a healthy church interplay. Below are two things great small groups do to make more and better disciples.
Provide Excellent Pastoral Care
We can tell story after story from our church community of how people have been cared for during difficult times in their life. Helping a cancer patient die with dignity, supporting a newly widowed mom through the sudden loss of her husband – while still caring for her young ones, loving divorced spouses to move on, helping a parent hope again after losing a child; and the list goes on and on. The beauty is the first person, people in our church call when they are in need is their small group leader OR better yet, members of their small group.
Robust Leadership Development Process
Highly relational coaches provide the support, encouragement and training to develop small group leaders in our church community. We have an orientation session that lasts a couple of hours for new small group leaders. But training happens “just in time” as leaders lead their group. I’ve found that the periodic calls we receive from our coach gives the level of support needed in about 90% of the situations we find ourselves. The remaining 10% need pastoral intervention when the situation warrants it; but that is not the norm.
Recently we kicked-off the fall Small Group season in our church community. You can see more of what we do in small groups when you CLICK HERE. When I asked our pastor, Steve Redden, the key to the small group DNA at Crosspoint he said two things stand out:
- From day one, small groups were the priority and no other ministries compete on the same evening as small groups.
- From day one, Steve has led a small group focused on new people with the intent of handing leadership over to an emerging leader from the group, so that he and his wife can start a new group.
Small groups that provide excellent pastoral care and a robust leadership development process are contributing to the vision – more and better disciples. Multiplication at the most fundamental level of disciplemaking and small groups is a good thing! These helpful tips are intended for you if you are wondering where to start or the next step you need to take to move your small group ministry forward.
I’ve struggled to describe the non-negotiables of a coachable person when training leaders in the coaching process and skills.
That is, until I read Patrick Lencioni’s book entitled, The Ideal Team Player. I’ve blogged about the three qualities (Hungry-Humble-Smart) as it pertains to a coachable person, in the past – CLICK HERE to review previous blogs. These are so important, easy to remember and helpful to determine if a person is a good fit.
What I did not know is that you can actually assess a person for these three qualities with a statistically reliable and valid tool – CLICK HERE to learn more.
The Harrison Assessment is capable of doing just that. This could be a very helpful exercise to assess prospective coaching clients, potential team members or as a developmental tool for people already on your team. Honestly, to have people see where they assess on the three qualities could be a humbling exercise, as well as a great way to help leaders surface blind spots. I’m always looking for new ways to come alongside leaders to help them go further faster.
If you would like to chat about this or other Harrison assessments, please CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment with Gary and discuss how The Harrison Assessment might further your mission to pre-qualify future staff hires & church planters, assess existing staff and develop your leaders.
As I’ve shared with you in the past, I’ve had an amazing experience attending WBECS – the World Business and Executive Coach Summit. I highly recommend that you take a look at this year’s inspiring line-up and register for their free Pre-Summit classes. Again, I want to provide are my recommendations for you as a leader who develops others using a coach approach for:
- disciplemaking & church planting
- leading & developing teams
- coaching church planters & networks leaders
Registration is now open! Go here to see the full WBECS speaker line-up and secure your spot at no cost!
Each week leading up to the FREE Pre-Summit I highlight a session that might be of particular interest for you. Remember the Pre-Summit consists of 48 sessions and lasts four weeks. Week #1 is May 27th – May 31st (see previous week’s blog for my recommendations).
You can choose for yourself which ones you want to attend.
Following is the session I recommend for Week #2 June 3rd-7th; especially if you are working with teams in a cross-cultural context.
The summit starts on May 28th and you can still register for over 40 live online classes. They are all completely pitch-free and 100% value!
Go here to register for the complimentary Pre-Summit sessions before they fill up!
This year, WBECS will surprise you with a lot of new features. You can join panel discussions, interact with the speakers during live Q&A sessions and much more.
I truly believe that you are going to be impressed by what they have to offer. Which is why I recommend that you experience WBECS for yourself.
Leadership Effectiveness Profile
Core values are both personal and corporate.
- They are personal in that individuals have certain aspects of their personality that they emphasize or aspire to uphold.
- They are corporate in that the collective values of team members capture the essence of what the organization aspires to uphold.
I’ve found that many individuals and teams are vague on their values. Case in point, how many times have you discovered a laundry list of values when you ask leaders to share/recite their personal or corporate values? I want to share with you a YouTube video that will challenge you to think through your core values and arrive at three that you will commit to memory.
The title of the YouTube video is, You Have Too Many Core Values by Storybrand founder, Don Miller. He is the author of the book, “Blue Like Jazz” that you may have read. The point he makes is worth considering for you and your team.
One of the reasons we are offering the Personal Calling Collective LIVE is to help people discover their personal values. As people take this important step they will have a greater sense of self, a greater understanding of how the Lord has created them and a greater sense of calling. I hope you can join me and my co-facilitator, Mukesh Azad in June 2019. CLICK HERE for more information.
How many times have you taken people through some kind of process to discern their spiritual gifts, passions, skills or strengths – only to discover that they had not budged in pursuing their calling from God?
When I first started out in ministry my role in the college group that I was serving was to help people understand their spiritual gifts. It did exactly what it was designed to do. People with a gift of service found a place to serve. Over and over again I helped people find how and where they could use their gifts. What I realized is, that this is a good starting point but not how people naturally thrive long-term.
Now, I see that the process needs to be embedded in a coaching relationship, providing feedback on an ongoing basis. When the feedback loop is provided, the person has a chance to reflect on what they are doing, make adjustments then focus more and more on what they enjoy most or – passionate about. I remember one person that I worked with for an extended period is now thriving in a church planting ministry.
However, that support is often-times missing for people who are discerning their way in ministry.
The solution is to have leaders who know how to support people in their unique, personal calling process. One group that we really, really need to help is the up and coming generation. Call them what you want, the younger generation are hungry for this type of attention – that is one reason we created the Personal Calling Collective, LIVE online learning community. To help you learn how to support followers of Jesus to discern what He has called them to do with their spiritual gifts, passions, skills, strengths all in the context of their life journey.
One of the tools that is central to the Collective is the Focused Ministry Coaching Guide & Storyboard. It provides the framework for the self-discovery process. What I like it that it describes the process – allowing you to utilize tools that you are most comfortable with to assess a person’s spiritual gifts, passions, skills, strengths, etc. There are so many available today and every leader has their favorites.
Who do you know that might benefit from being a part of an exciting group of leaders, working hard to help people discern what God has called them to accomplish?
The start date is June 24 and the Collective includes four, 1-hour group sessions with six, 1-1 coach appointments; for a total of 10 contact hours. Please reach-out to me direct and let me know if you have any questions. You can schedule a time to meet by CLICKING HERE.
Below is a breakdown of the topics you will learn how to coaching people through:
- Showing Up
- Trying things out
- Connecting with your passion
- Evaluating your service
- Examining your life journey
- Discerning your calling
- Sharpening your skills
- Involving others
- Training others
- Broadening perspectives
CLICK HERE for more information.
My wife Gina is a health coach. One of the challenges she faces in working with clients is their ability to hear that 80% of weight loss is based on what you put in your mouth. The other 20% is exercise. Many times, it is like that bit of information is lost in translation. Instead of putting the focus where it needs to be (food intake) the emphasis is placed on increasing the level of activity – exercise.
It is kind of like going to a church multiplication conference and walking away with a list of things that should be done and neglecting the need to shift the culture of the church. Culture shift is a much more complicated, riskier and problematic exercise.
An intriguing study was released in March 2019 from Exponential by LifeWay Research entitled: “Small, Struggling Congregations Fill U.S. Church Landscape” (used with permission). The article highlights some of the findings that will confirm, or contrast with, what you sense is happening with the church in America. Essentially, the trend remains stable with about 72% of the congregations remaining about the same, or showing slight increases in growth, as the graphs above suggest.
I’ve tracked this trend over the last 30+ years. It is disheartening to read that the situation is not changing. But I also have two reasons to be hopeful.
- Smaller (much SMALLER) Churches Prevail
- Bigger (much BIGGER) Churches are Needed
First, the data suggest that small churches are more effective at making disciples of people far from God.
Forty-six percent of smaller churches (fewer than 50 in worship services) say they had 10 conversions or more for every 100 in attendance, while only 18 percent of churches 250 and above meet that benchmark.
My experience supports this, along with research beyond the US, from the international community (see “Is Bigger Really Better? The Statistics actually Say NO!” by Neil Cole) My observation is that small churches should remain evangelistically effective by making disciples through the reproduction of disciplemaking communities. Culturally, the US is less receptive to creating a culture of multiplication for reasons that I won’t go into here; but the fact remains, the single most important question, that surfaces through the international data from Natural Church Development is an affirmative response to this issue:
Our church consciously promotes the multiplication of small groups through cell division?
It is sort of like when people go to Gina, my wife, the health coach. When she explains to clients in order to lose weight “you must eat healthy and introduce exercise incrementally” there is dissonance. The external response is often at odds with the internal response!
Second, we need more bigger churches – much BIGGER!
The mega-church in the US has traditionally, and continues, to attract the low-lying fruit (people looking for a church home who are for the most part, already followers of Christ). In 2018 the largest congregation in the US had 43,000 people in worship services on a weekly basis – CLICK HERE for more information vs. the top 20 largest congregations worldwide with worship service attendance starting at 250,000+ through regional house church networks – CLICK HERE for more information (albeit dated, but still relevant for my purpose). In the future, I predict the large church will be re-defined by two characteristics in the US:
- Disciplemaking communities with the DNA of multiplication that will reproduce into the third, fourth and fifth generation
- Regional churches of hundreds of thousands of disciples of Jesus vs. tens of thousands we currently see
This is what we have been learning from the international church. However, the ramifications are much more significant than what we can imagine. My experience suggests that until the pain reaches a tipping point where the way we are making disciples and planting churches really and truly is not working OR the resources are no longer available – change will be constrained to the pioneers
Here are three broad changes that are and will continue to occur in the future:
- Simplify requirements of leaders – namely denominations
- More relevant training processes to development leaders – namely seminaries
- Proliferation of bi-vocational leaders – namely the local church
Each of these are hotly debated among denominations, seminaries and local congregations. Humanly speaking, If data alone drove change, then change would have happened long ago, Ultimately, apart from the miraculous work of God, the driving force will be the resources required to run these institutions. What gives me hope, and prayerfully excites you, assuming you’ve stayed with me so far; is that the next generation and the generation after that are looking for deep change AND the Lord of the Harvest is using institutions that have traditionally been unwilling to change, display an openness to change. A number of examples can be given in each of the three categories above on large and small scales – but the window of change is opening.
Here are two examples of what I mean:
- More relational approaches to make disciples and develop leaders through coaching:
- Every notable church planting network, mission agency and reproducing church has embraced the power of coaching.
- Simplifying and creating relevant delivery systems for higher education:
- Fuller Theological Seminary is downsizing their geographic footprint to reallocate resources to reach more students through online delivery systems and making degreed programs fully accessible to leaders around the world, in a manner that would not be possible if they had remained in their Pasadena location.
These examples are like the story of so many of Gina’s clients. The pain and discomfort of remaining in an unhealthy state is overshadowed by their desire for a healthy existence. When they reach that tipping point, deep change begins.
May the Lord give us insight and wisdom to seize the opportunity sooner rather than later.
Change Management Resources: