The below excerpt is from my book Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups. This revised and expanded edition shows church leaders how to make their small groups work.
Creating a scalable growth structure—one that can grow as your church grows—is key to the success of groups. So before you can set your leadership goals, you need to make sure you are thinking in line with a structure that will allow plenty of room for growth as God blesses your church with more attenders, more groups, and more group members.
For churches with fewer than twenty groups, the structure can be very simple. Basically, the groups pastor or director is the structure all groups report to him or her. However, as the system grows, a more intentional structure becomes necessary. Why? Because good structure is necessary for accountability, promotes communication, promotes expansion of the group system, and minimizes problems.
Good structure is necessary for accountability.
Group leaders are not meant to be lone rangers within your system, doing whatever they feel like doing. At The Journey, we ask our small group leaders to take on four specific responsibilities:
- Pray for group members once a day.
- Lead their group once a week.
- Meet their team leader in a “group huddle” once a semester.
- Work with their team leader and staff to form new groups from their current group toward the end of each semester.
We then communicate with the leaders by phone or email weekly, and in person monthly, to ensure accountability.
Good structure promotes communication.
A structure in which a group leader has regular conversations with their team leader allows for questions to be answered quickly, last-minute issues to be addressed, and life-changing stories to be shared. In a strong structure, every leader feels like they are being supported. (More on establishing team leaders below.)
Good structure promotes expansion of the group system.
As group leaders get busy with the weekly details of running their group, they may neglect important responsibilities like raising up new leaders, scheduling an outreach project, or serving with their group on a Sunday. A good structure has built-in reminders to keep leaders on track with these commitments.
Good structure minimizes problems.
Regardless of how well you set up your system, there will be occasional problems. However, every problem that is dealt with early enough can be converted into an opportunity for improvement. Since every group leader communicates regularly with their ream leader, problems can be caught early and handled before they reach a crisis point.
So how do you structure your small groups for success? Since every church is unique, every structure is unique. There is no one size fits all. You will want to make sure that, at a minimum, your structure can accomplish the four benefits we’ve just discussed.
– Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas, with Jennifer Dykes Henson
The above excerpt is from p.142-144 of Activate: An Entirely New Approach to Small Groups.
Drawing from the startling success of small groups at The Journey Church, Nelson Searcy and Kerrick Thomas debunk the myths, set the record straight, and show how church leaders can implement a healthy small group ministry that gets the maximum number of people involved and solves many of the important problems facing churches of all sizes. These practical strategies will produce life-changing results.
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