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Leadership
Pastor Brian Jones tells of the response he got from one ‘nationally recognized’ pastor when Brian told him that he hadn’t figured out the whole small group thing yet.  Brian said the pastor’s response was something like this:
“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work. Small groups are things that trick us into believing we are serious about making disciples. The problem is 90 percent of small groups never produce one single disciple. Ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships, for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church, and they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the Evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago that small groups just aren’t working.”
Wow.  My experience in the church is that, many times, small groups DO NOT work.  But sometimes they do. But, that said, even when they do, this person is right, they many times take an inward rather than outward track. What do YOU think?  How do you make your small group make a difference?  How do you make your small group be in the top 10% that actually create disciples (what we’re all hoping to do!) In full disclosure, we’re hosting a new small group. Todd You can read more of Brian Jones’ story here…
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Outreach
“Simply having a small group program in a church is no guarantee of success,” according to Kevin Dougherty, an assistant professor in Baylor’s department of sociology… what matters is that the groups meet regularly; that members trust one another enough to divulge matters they would not to a stranger; and that they tackle tough issues in one another’s lives.  That’s according to a new small group study out from Baylor. Here are some other findings: Members of small groups are more likely to attend worship, tithe and volunteer. Any type of small group will benefit a church, from a Sunday School class to a basketball league Frequency of attendance at small group is more important than length of attendance The best way to get people into small groups:  invite them Small groups foster belonging and commitment, but Bible Study and prayer groups are better at promoting discipleship and spiritual growth. via Small Groups Are Not a Cure-All for Megachurches. Any thoughts?  What church do you think does small groups really, really well?  Why?
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Leadership
Megachurches are biblical.  In fact, the first megachurch was the church in Acts 2, according to Rick Warren. In a recent article at The Christian Post, Rick said:
“Christianity for 2,000 years has had large churches, including the very first one…the first church in Jerusalem was five times bigger than Saddleback.”
In fact… most people, according to Warren, said that the first church grew from 120 to over 100,000 people within 20 years. But not everyone likes a big church.  In fact, Warren says that really the only people that really like big churches are preachers:
“You need to understand this, pastor: nobody really likes big churches. The only people who like big churches are pastors because we like to preach to a large crowd. People don’t go to church because of size. They put up with size in order to get the benefits.”
I found this part of the article interesting: Saddleback Church has had consistent growth over the past 30 years, according to Warren. Last year was the congregation’s “greatest year” with record numbers of baptisms, small groups and missionaries. The key to Saddleback’s growth, and to the first church in Jerusalem’s growth for that matter, is growing larger and smaller at the same time, he said. Large group worship and small group fellowship (meeting from house to house) are described in the book of Acts. Small groups are not an option, Warren stressed. They serve as the basic cells in the body of Christ “One cell (a church body without small groups) that gets bigger and bigger; there’s a word for that: it’s called cancer. You don’t want to be a cancer,” he said. “A healthy body is made up of large group worship, small group fellowship.” via Warren: Megachurches, Multi-Site Venues Are Biblical | Christianpost.com. What do you think?  I was always brought up to think that a healthy church is a growing church… yet most churches in this country are NOT growing.  Most are stagnant or in decline.  Why?

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Leadership
So many churches try to have an effective small group ministry and fail.  Groups are tough.  So… how do you measure the effectiveness of your small group ministry?  Alan Danielson has some ideas for you.  In fact, the way you measure your effectiveness is all according to what you’re trying to achieve in the life of your church. Alan shared this bit of advice over at MarkHowellLive.com: First here’s the question:  “What are the markers for a healthy small group ministry.  That is, when a small group pastor does her/his evaluation of the ministry, what are the list of things that that small group pastor should be measuring to determine how effective the ministry really is?” Here’s Alan’s answer: When determining what to measure in regard to the health of an overall group ministry, I think measurements can change from year to year based on what you are trying to achieve.  For example:  if your biggest hope one year is to train up new leaders for future growth, then you’d measure how many leaders you train over the year.  If you are focusing on getting groups to be missional, you keep track of the number of small groups who participated in missions.  If you’re wanting your number of groups to dramatically rise, then you track your number of groups.  If you want more of your congregation to join groups, measure the % of your weekend attendance in groups. I like setting 12 months metric goals based on the ministry’s overall needs each year because measured performance is improved performance.  If I need to improve something, I measure it, make it a habit, then move on to the next thing. You can read different answers to this question this week at MarkHowellLive.com.  And you can check out Alan’s blog for more great small group and leadership resources. How are you currently measuring the effectiveness of your small group ministry?  Are you achieving success? Todd
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