Building a healthy Small Group culture is quite the undertaking. It was a journey that took much longer than I anticipated. Although we haven’t yet “arrived,” we have managed to build a thriving culture for small groups. Looking back on the process, I can clearly see three specific pivot points that were crucial to the transition. If I was helping you transition your ministry where small groups were central to success, I’d walk you through these very same pivot points.

  • Know the Bullseye
  • Shifting Perspectives
  • Defining the Win

For this post, let’s take a look at the first pivot point.

Know the Bullseye

There are a lot of things worth striving for when it comes to the weekend experience.

We want kids to hear the gospel message.  Kids need to hear the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for them. This message needs to be clear and consistent for every child.

We want kids to have fun. The weekend experience shouldn’t be boring. It should be relevant, helpful, and practical – but highly engaging for kids. We should include fun elements that kids won’t normally encounter in their everyday lives.

We want kids to come back. Their church community needs to become a part of their weekly routine. We want kids to have something worth coming back to every week.

We want kids to bring their friends. Our faith is for sharing. There are more kids who are not connected to a healthy church that those who are. We want to create experiences that are easy to invite friends to attend.

These are great goals. Every one of these things is worth pursuing. However, early on we realized that we had to choose a focus. We realized that every week, we were shooting at a target. We were aiming to achieve something. Every week, kids were showing up and we had an opportunity to accomplish something. What exactly did we want to accomplish? Any of the things above were great answers to that question. However, we narrowed in on something we kept coming back to in every one of our conversations. We kept coming back to relationships.

There’s this idea that we all believed.

The best way for a kid to know God is to know someone who knows God.

If this is true, then we had to create an environment that emphasized relationships. We made relationships our focus. We put small groups in the bullseye. It’s not that we didn’t do any of the other things on the list above, we just reorganized so that they emanated around the bullseye. What does that actually mean? It meant that we started to look at everything we did through the lens of small groups. If it didn’t support small groups, we changed it so that it did support small groups.

  • We changed the way our rooms were set up so that they emphasized small groups
  • We changed the way we communicate so that we always emphasized small groups
  • We changed the way we prepared resources so that every leader was equipped, which emphasized small groups.

If you ever have the chance to get behind the scenes at Disney, you’ll hear a few culture shaping phrases like “Everyone walks the talk” and “Everything walks the talk.” It’s a reminder of how everyone and everything supports the main goal. In our world, it had to be small groups.

Most churches (and organizations) don’t have a focus. When everything is important, nothing is important. If building a healthy small group culture in your ministry is important, I’d encourage you to examine your priorities. What are you focused on? Are small groups in the bullseye? Take the time to see how other “priorities” can emanate from your bullseye.

Next, we’ll take a look at Shifting Perspectives.