By Reid Smith
All of us come to the table with our own experience, biases, and presumptions about what works best with starting and multiplying healthy groups in a church. Over time, paradigms (or ways of thinking) about groups formulate in our minds, which in turn influence the culture of the community being built. This is natural, but should be challenged so that the culture of community in your church is being shaped strategically around informed convictions instead of unchallenged paradigms.
One of the best ways of challenging paradigms is by asking questions. As you search God’s Word and your heart, your paradigms might change or be further solidified. These inquiries are meant to be thought-provoking and are good to process with other trusted leaders whether or not you’ve launched groups in your church yet.
Are you ready to begin building a strategic culture of community in your church? Clear your mind and honestly grapple with these 10 questions:
- Do you think of groups as a “ministry” of your church or as the building blocks of every ministry area of your church?
- Is there a clear vision for groups? What language does leadership intentionally use to support this vision?
- Does your church put more emphasis on joining or starting groups? What are the pros and cons of the language leadership uses to support this emphasis?
- Do you consider it to be more advantageous to have a broad/open-ended or narrow/specific definition of what constitutes a “group” in your church? Explain.
- What is the primary motivation of getting people in groups (retention, member care, increasing engagement in church activities/volunteerism, spiritual maturity, mission, etc.)? Are other critical things being under-communicated as a result of this emphasis?
- On a scale of 1-10 (with ‘1’ being “if I have time and feel like it” to ‘10’ being “a vital spiritual habit I prioritize weekly”), how important do you think your average church member views their personal involvement in a group? Explain.
- What are the qualifications for serving as a group leader? Would you consider yourself to have a high or low bar? Explain.
- Do you have an ongoing rhythm of equipping leaders once they get started? Describe any gap you see between what this looks like now and what you hope it will look like.
- What does success look like to your group leadership? How is it measured and celebrated?
- How is growth and multiplication built into the way groups are communicated and stewarded in your church?
It is actually a good thing if you’re walking away from this exercise with more questions than answers. Take time to figure out how the Lord wants you to plant, prioritize, and prune your group life so that Christ-centered community can grow healthy and strong.
If you’re not the Lead/Senior Pastor, then find a way to process these questions together, agree on responses, and document them. This will establish and maintain a strategic culture of community that will start and multiply healthy groups throughout your church moving forward.
Reid Smith has been equipping leaders in churches of all sizes and stages of growth for effective disciple-making since 1996. He lives in Wellington, Florida where he serves as a Groups Pastor at Christ Fellowship. You can find more of his helpful resources at www.reidsmith.org.