Do Ministry Teams Compete with Small Groups?

This is Kerrick Thomas – Executive Pastor at The Journey Church and co-author of “Activate” with Nelson.

Nelson asked if I would take a moment today to address a common small groups question – the apparent “competition” between Small Groups and Ministry Teams.

Recently, I’ve received two questions about this same issue and I wanted to answer each of them:

1 – If we’re doing a “ministry” focus (like Nelson teaches in planning your preaching calendar) during the same time we’re scheduled to promote Small Groups, should we change the promotion period?

We are also doing a teaching series on Ministry during our Small Group Promotion Month at The Journey this fall.

Quick answer: No, I would not change your Small Group Promotion Month (sign up period) if you have found the time period that works best for you.  

We usually recommend starting the sign up period immediately after school begins in your community.  We begin our promotion month the Sunday of Labor Day since in NYC school usually begins the Tueday after Labor Day.  But if adjusting one or two weeks later doesn’t affect your promotion month or your Fall small groups… that is not a big deal.

We will probably actually have a Ministry Fair while we have Small Group sign ups going on during September.  It might not be ideal – but it’s definitely doable.  Especially if you have the Ministry Fair closer to the beginning of the sign up period.

Remember – when we do small group promotion we build momentum through the Small Group Promotion Month – so we start out a little softer but by the last 2 weeks before groups begin we are promoting pretty strongly.  So – if you have the Ministry Fair during your small group sign ups – be sure not to put it during the last 2 weeks of sign ups before the groups begin.

2 – Should we turn our ministry teams into Small Groups to incorporate more spiritual growth and give people one thing to sign up for?

This may seem like a good option, but I would NOT recommend turning your Sunday Service Teams into Small Groups.  The reason is three-fold:

– One, the Sunday Service Teams will never be able to focus on spiritual growth, prayer and relationships.  It’s just too fast and too hectic – and their mission during the time they are scheduled to meet is just too critical to your church.

Community Service Small Groups are different because they meet during the week and so don’t have the time pressure.  Also – they don’t have to serve every week.

– Two, if you turn your Sunday Service Teams into small groups then you will either prohibit people from just showing up to serve with the team once sign ups close or  you will have new people there every week which really isn’t a small group dynamic where you can begin to develop trust and share with one another.

– Three, people will serve AND participate in a Small Group.  Just don’t ask them to serve every week.  We ask our members to serve 1 hour a month. Those who serve on specific ministry teams usually serve every other week at the most.  So, we don’t burn them out.

Plus, don’t forget – Small Groups are a great way to introduce people to serving. We assign all of our Small Groups one Sunday service a month to come to one hour early and help serve.  Before the service begins – we talk with them about signing up to serve once a month on a different ministry team.  It’s a great way to incorporate Small Groups into Ministry and to get new people plugged in.

I hope that helps!


P.S. If you’re ready to activate your Small Groups, involve more than 100% of your church in groups, and see radical life change, check out The Small Groups Intensive.

Share This Post

About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcySmall Groups

tagged with: ,,,