Monthly Archives: July 2013
I had the opportunity last week to participate on a panel of “small groups experts” to talk about some of things that we have learned through the years in group life. One of the questions I was asked was, “If you were to start all over, what are some things that you would do differently in designing a groups system?”.
Here are a couple of things that I would focus on if I was starting over today:
1. Build care into the structure early.
There is always a rush to get as many groups as possible started as quickly as possible. This makes sense, because you want to connect as many people as you can to community. The issue becomes when you have not thought through what your system is for leaders to care for other leaders. We call this coaches, but it may look different in your context. Whatever that is, a structure that is long and wide will eventually collapse if there is not anything supporting the base. I would start very early on with the idea that we are not sending leaders out there alone to fend for themselves. They need to know that someone is there to answer questions, pray for them and give them support and accountability.
2. Lower the bar for leadership on-ramps.
It is tempting early on to create a lot of hoops for potential leaders to jump through before assuming the mantle of leadership. This will not only weed out the potentially bad leaders, but it will also scare off the potential strong ones. I would create a system early on that gives opportunities for different levels of leadership to grow. We do that through our HOST groups. Anyone can host a group for 6 weeks and start the journey of leadership. A few of those hosts will discover after 6 weeks that leading a group is maybe not for them. Most of them, however, will get a taste of community and want to continue down that leadership path. You will never be able help those people discover their leadership gifts if you don’t make the on ramp easy and obvious.
When I bought my first Jeep Wrangler, I didn’t realize that I was also buying into a very exclusive club. All of a sudden, every person driving a Wrangler would acknowledge me with a simple hand wave as we passed on the road. This never happened in the Cherokee or the Nissan. Nobody cared when we were both driving a Geo Metro.
I found this again when I bought my Harley Davidson motorcycle. This time, it didn’t matter what the brand of bike was, as long as it’s another motorcycle you get an acknowledgement from the other side of the road. A simple drop of the left hand off of the handlebar is enough. If that’s impossible, you at least get a subtle nod of the head.
I have decided that I will always own a vehicle that get’s me into some kind of a club. It feels good to know that another human being thinks that I made the right lifestyle choice with my mode of transportation.
I get that same feeling when I run into someone from our small group at church or anywhere outside of group. Because of those conversations around our living room every Thursday night, we hold a bond that no one else quite understands. Sometimes we have time for a conversation at the grocery store, other times it’s just a simple head nod and a smile from across the auditorium.
They get me.
I have decided that I always want to belong to that club.
We are in the middle of hiring several positions at Cross Point and I recently re-read this from Bill Hybels:
“In general, a leader won’t attract, motivate, or retain people who are higher on the leadership effectiveness scale than they are…Over time, the net effect of hiring people less effective than you is an ever-increasing number of lower-caliber leaders….Embolden your staff members to grow their own leadership and then to shoot high when someone needs to be added to the team. Encourage them to go after the brightest, most accomplished, most effective leaders they can find. In so doing, you will continually upgrade your organization’s leadership capabilities.”
Here are the questions that we usually have about potential candidates for a position:
1. Are they available?
If they are available, the chances are that there is a reason they are available. Great people are currently doing great things where they are. They probably aren’t yet aware that they want to be on your team.
2. Can they do the job?
We all look for someone that is capable of getting the job done, but often not quite as good as we could do it. That seemingly brings job security, but over time, that brings mediocrity and low moral for the whole team.
3. What will it cost?
Hiring great people costs money. We all have to live within a budget, but if you continually look for the cheapest options, you will eventually get what you pay for. 1 Timothy 5:18 says, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Next time you are hiring for a position on your team, go after the best. Bill Gates once said about the success of Microsoft, “The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.”
Hire really smart people.
We are currently working on a fun project for our groups leadership rally that kicks off our fall semester in August. While the end goal is a secret until that night, the process is thinking through the top facts that leaders and potential leaders would want to know about groups at Cross Point. These are not deep theological points, but the more practical, nuts and bolts side of group life.
Here are a few of the questions that I have come up with so far. We will survey our current leaders this week to see what their answers would be.
1. What is the best size for a group?
2. What is the best length of time for a typical group meeting?
3. What is your favorite food to offer at a group meeting?
4. What is the best day of the week to schedule a group?
5. What is the most popular curriculum choice at Cross Point?
6. What is the best way for people to join a group?
7. What is the best way to handle a group member that talks too much?
8. What is the best way to get someone to talk during group that is normally quiet?
9. What is the perfect number of weeks for a study?
10. What is the ideal location for a group meeting?
11. What is the ideal size for a community group?
12. What percentage of time should a leader be talking during a discussion?
I think the answers that we get back from our leaders could be interesting. I will post those as well as what we plan on doing with them after the event. It’s going to be a fun night!
In order to have a successful fall for groups, the planning has to happen in July. Here are 4 things that you can be working on now that will pay off in August.
1. Update your curriculum menu
Spend some time going through your current groups curriculum choices. Is there anything that is outdated? Where do you want your groups to grow spiritually this year? We are currently developing a year long curriculum menu that will help our groups take their next spiritual steps through the course of a year.
2. Recruit coaches and leaders
Start now talking to potential coaches and leaders about the fall. If you don’t already have job descriptions for those positions, spend some time putting those together. List out not only the responsibilities, but the time commitment as well. It helps volunteers to know what kind of time commitment they are signing up for over the next few months.
3. Plan the fall study
Is your church going to do an all-church study this fall? Now is the time to start planning out and building the elements for that study. Spend some time with the teaching pastor to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Is there something off of the shelf that will go along with the series? Should you write a study and shoot videos to along with it? Are there other ministries that can take advantage of being on the same page for those weeks?
4. Schedule and plan the next training session
Plan a time before your next semester where all of your leaders are in the same room. This is a great opportunity to celebrate your leaders as well as share vision for what is coming in the fall. I would highly recommend having the senior pastor speak, if possible. Your leaders need to hear from the groups champion the overall vision of why discipleship is important.