Small groups is actually a thing (10-15 year ago, not nearly as much). Most of the curriculum you could buy for your ministry assumes that you’re already doing small groups. At least they provide questions and resources for small group time. Doing small group and having a small group culture, are in fact, two different things. Many churches offer small groups each and every week, but few churches have thriving groups because of a relational culture that was intentionally cultivated. Our transition to a healthy small group culture revolved around three specific pivot points:
- Know the Bullseye
- Shifting Perspectives
- Defining the Win
Today, let’s look at the second pivot point.
It’s entirely possible for two different people to look at the same thing and each see something different. That’s the power of perspective. Early in our process of shifting small groups to the center of the bullseye, we discovered the power of perspective. It almost ate our lunch.
As we began our small group journey, we focused our efforts on elementary. We quickly realized that we were going to have to reshape the way our elementary small group leaders thought. Their perspective needed a shift. Their perspective of small groups was only “contextual.” For most of them, small groups simply meant that they were small-er than large group. They were not small groups, not by any stretch of the imagination. Our leaders had grown accustomed to leading 15-20 kids in a group and largely playing the role of a disciplinarian. They spent more time managing behavior than actually creating quality conversations. What they thought was a small group wasn’t a small group at all. Just wait, it get’s even weirder.
When we actually began to bring groups to the appropriate size, something we didn’t expect began to happen. Leaders started to disconnect. They actually didn’t know what to do. Many even felt unnecessary and useless. They were so accustomed to larger groups of kids, just getting through the service was an accomplishment. They had a survivor’s mentality. When we took away their greatest challenge, they felt like they weren’t needed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We became hyper-aware of our need to shift the perspective. Our leaders had a different mentality and it was our job to condition their thinking into something different. We set to work reshaping the way they viewed their small group. If their group was larger than 10 kids, they had too many! Isn’t that crazy? For over a year, we communicated this very goal at every pre-service volunteer meeting. MORE THAN 10 KIDS IS TOO MANY KIDS! TEN KIDS PER GROUP! Any leaders that consistently maintained a larger ratio were kept up to date on our efforts to make their group smaller.
The pivot point of changing perspective can be challenging. You don’t always know how someone else sees what you see. Isn’t that the foundation of 90% of marital arguments? We have to ask questions. Sometimes we have to ask absurdly obvious questions. We can’t assume anything. Then we have to communicate how things really are or how they should be. And communicate it again. And again. And yet again. When you’re pretty sure that everyone hates that you keep saying the same thing over and over again, you’re just getting started. Like most things, this takes time and as you add new volunteer and communicate a consistent message, everyone will see things the way they should be, and they’ll forget they every saw it differently. Funny how that works, right?
This was an important step to reshape the way our small group leaders viewed their small group time.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at the final pivot point, Defining the Win.
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