5 Ways We’re Prioritizing Small Groups this Year

Over the past five years, the church I serve has gotten consistently worse at small groups. We have a hard time finding leaders, and when we do have leaders, they have a hard time getting people to show up to their group. So, you may be asking yourself, why should I listen to any thing this guy says about groups? I’d be better off reading the blog of someone whose church has over 100% of their congregation in small groups and who doesn’t even take up an offering because their church is so generous. Good luck with that. For everyone else whose church is struggling and who has real problems getting people connected, read on.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you are probably aware of my frustration with groups. There have been many times I’ve been ready to give up on them. If people don’t want to grow in their spiritual walks, then I can’t force them to.

That’s true, but there seems to be something missing in our church when we’re not doing groups well. New relationships aren’t formed, and old relationships aren’t strengthened, which means the family of God isn’t as close as they could be. And because of this, people are less likely to serve, to give, or to even show up.

That’s a problem, and one that needs to be solved. It seems like small groups are the logical solution. So, how can we do it better? Here are a few things we plan on trying.

  1. We’re asking every staff member and leader to lead a group. This seems so obvious, but without accountability it’s easy to let it slip. Yes, our staff and leaders are already very busy but so is everyone else. And if our staff and leaders aren’t making groups a priority in their lives, you can guarantee no one else is either.
  2. We’re allowing leaders to choose the times that work best for them. Semester based small groups are good since you can promote them all at once, but they don’t always work with everyone’s schedule. For example, if you have a child involved in football, then it may be hard for you to lead or attend a group in the fall. You’re busy enough during that season. So, while we’re not completely going away from semester based, we are allowing people to lead groups at times that work best for them.
  3. We’re talking about groups more often. In the past we would talk about groups about a month before each semester began, and then you wouldn’t hear anything else about them until the next semester was getting ready to kick off. This year we plan on finding some new and creative ways to talk about groups throughout the year.
  4. We’re offering free childcare on certain nights. One of the biggest concerns for most group leaders is, what do I do with the kids? With two young kids of my own, I can totally relate. To help alleviate these concerns, we’ll be offering free childcare on Wednesday nights at our church. This will cost the church some money, but I believe it will be worth it in the long run.
  5. We’re evaluating ourselves monthly. In years past, we may have talked about some of our struggles to find group leaders or get people to attend, but it was just a few times a year and we never did anything about it. This year we’re looking at our group numbers every month, and if we don’t like what we see, we’re taking action.

Do you have the secret formula for making groups work in small town rural settings? Or are you just as frustrated as me? I’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments below. And while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to learn more about church growth, leadership, and the frustrations that come along with it.

Six Ways You Can Support Your Senior Pastor

Many senior pastors are blessed with a great support staff and volunteers around them, but there are others who aren’t so fortunate. Some pastors have to try to lead a team they didn’t pick, a board they didn’t elect, and a congregation who aren’t always happy about them being their pastor. It’s a recipe for disaster, but you can help change that. You can make the decision to support your pastor, and here’s six ways you can do it.

  1. Don’t make them feel guilty for spending time with their family. I’ve more than likely been guilty of this myself. During certain seasons, it can be tempting to expect the senior pastor to skip out on some family events in the name of ministry. Don’t do this. Our families are the most important ministry we’ll ever lead. Lead yours well, and don’t make the pastor feel guilty for spending time with theirs.
  2. Don’t expect them to be at every hospital visit, funeral visit, or even church event. We all are limited to 24 hours in a day. In order to be healthy and lead, a pastor has to prioritize their time. That means they may have to miss out on some things others think are really important. If it’s that important, surely someone else can step up and do it.
  3. Don’t talk bad about them to others. Not even your spouse. It’s not healthy, and it’s probably a sin. If you have a problem with them, go to them and talk with them one on one. And if you hear someone else talking bad about them, it’s your job to step in and stop it.
  4. Encourage them. Most pastors receive far more criticism than encouragement. They have more doubts and fears than you probably realize. Send them a note or email to encourage them, and tell them how their ministry is impacting your life.
  5. Pray for them. It’s hard to complain about someone you’re praying for. Pray for their ministry, their family, and them personally. Give it a try, and see if it makes a difference.
  6. Do your job well. Perhaps the best thing you can do to support your pastor is to get better at the role you play. If you lead a ministry, lead to the very best of your ability. If you’re a volunteer, serve with everything you got. If you’re just attending a church, start getting involved. If we all just embraced this one idea, our churches would get healthier.

Ok, senior pastors, how did I do? What did I leave out that you would add? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, while you’re here, you might as well subscribe to the blog, especially if you’re looking for tips on growing and leading a church.

5 Things I’m Asking Our Leaders to Do More of This Year

Are you satisfied with the results you’re currently seeing in your church? I haven’t been. For several years our church has grown in almost every category, but last year I feel like we may have taken a step back. That means something has to change. I’m not going to let my church settle for good enough, and neither should you. So, I’m asking our leaders to do these five things more this year.

  1. Give Financially –  The financial struggle in small town churches is real. This year we’ve felt it more than any other. Our desire is to launch more campuses around us, but there’s no way we can do that at our current giving levels. We have to teach our leaders how to manage their money better in order for them to be generous. Some of our leaders need to begin giving this year, and others need to begin giving more.
  2. Lead a Group –  Even though I have a love/hate relationship with small groups, I’m becoming more and more convinced that they are an absolute necessity for a church’s future success. The only way we’re going to see small groups become a big part of our church is through our leaders. They have to be willing to open up their homes and their hearts to better connect with others.
  3. Engage with the Church on Social Media – Our church pages have over 2,500 followers on social media, and yet when the church posts and no one engages. Only a handful of people ever see it. Social media is an incredible tool for our church to get our message heard, but our leaders have to be intentional about commenting and sharing. We can help them out by making sure when we post something of importance, like a new sermon series or family event, we let them know.
  4. Care for Their Volunteer Team –  It’s easy to get frustrated at volunteers who show up late, or don’t show up at all. But I’m more frustrated at leaders who don’t take the time to follow up with their volunteers and find out why they’re having a hard time showing up. When we care for our teams, they’ll start to care about showing up. Leaders would do themselves a huge favor if they just initiated a conversation with their volunteers each week.
  5. Expand Their Circle of Influence – People have a tendency to engage with the same people week after week. Christians are no different. We find a group of people we like, and we rarely have a conversation with someone outside of them. My leaders have to do better than that. They have to be intentional about meeting new people inside and outside of the church. For those outside, we want to invite them in.  For those inside, we want to invite them to get connected.

There are so many things I could probably add to this list. I want our leaders to pray more, read more, the list could go on and on. But, I’d love to know what’s on your list for this year. What are you asking your leaders to do more of? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.