When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. Matthew 9:26 (MSG)
Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? Luke 15:4 (MSG)
When I was a discipleship and family pastor, the way we cared for and discipled our people was by connecting them in small groups. This is where people were to find their way out of confusion and aimlessness. This is where hearts were to be shepherded. But, it didn't take long to realize that, just like individuals, small groups often lost their way and needed shepherded. This was my job. Maybe this is yours too.
Problems. We started Churchteams and spent the first 7 years focusing on solving 3 problems related to small group ministry.
- Connecting people,
- Collecting information, and
- Coaching groups.
Lessons. Here are 5 lessons we learned while struggling with these problems that are helping pastors all over the world find their lost groups.
- Trust is vital to healthy groups.
- Consistency is a key factor in building trust.
- Consistency can be measured.
- Groups with 80% consistency are healthy.
- Groups with less than 50% consistency are often lost; confused & aimless.
Counting. The shepherd in Luke 15 didn't count to brag. He counted to care. He wasn't responsible for 99 sheep, he was responsible for 100. This required a system to discover if any sheep were lost. So, he counted. Only then did he know one was missing. Shepherding starts with counting.
Value. Shepherds worth their pay know where the ditches, bushes and fences are. There are numerous books, classes, conferences, websites and coaching opportunities to learn the terrain. Though, I love to interact with pastors on these, our real value is how we uniquely help you solve the above 3 problems. Other systems have tried to copy how we connect people and collect information. But, none match us in providing a way to measure trust so that you know which groups need coaching like we have.
Metrics. Our monthly group health report provides metrics specifically designed to meet the unique perspective and information needs at three levels:
- Executive level - 30,000 foot view.
- Director level - 5,000 foot view.
- Leader level - ground view.
If you haven't for awhile, join me for a small group virtual class. I love sharing in one hour, not only our tool, but the best ministry practices we have learned alongside so many amazing churches and ministries the last couple of decades.