4 Ministry Bogeys That Might Not Be On Your Radar

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:50:00 AM Categories: Leadership Membership/Assimilation Small Groups
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Have you ever said, “I’m not sure how I missed that!” Or maybe, “That caught all of us by surprise!” If you’ve said anything like that, you’re in good company.

Life has a way of encouraging preoccupation with that which is urgent, often at the expense of those things that are truly important. And sometimes that unnoticed blip on the screen turns out to be very significant.

To an air traffic controller a bogey is an unidentified aircraft; a suspicious blip on a radar screen. They don’t know what it is or whether it is friend or foe.

For my purposes, I’m defining a bogey as something more than suspicious and probably something quite deadly. See what you think.

Here are 4 bogeys* that might not be on your radar…yet:

1) Belonging trumps believing and becoming. All three are important, but, although there are exceptions, belonging is a much higher motivation for most people. That said, it is more effective to make it easy to connect to a small group and build discipleship (becoming like Jesus) into the group experience than the other way around. If you’ve missed this bogey, you may have implemented a strategy that repeatedly hopes against all odds to leverage a lower motivation (becoming) as first step. For first steps to be effective, they must be easy, obvious and strategic. First steps can be clearly marked (obvious) and strategic (only leading where you want people to go), but unless they are easy (come and see vs come and die), they will only rarely be taken.

2) Until the why is clearly communicated, what is unfamiliar and how is irrelevant to unconnected people. You may have designed genius communication methods that clearly explain how to get connected.  You may have worked diligently to develop steps that are easy, obvious and strategic. But until you’ve made it easy to understand why doing life in community is so important, you will struggle to break through the most basic of barriers. Only after you’ve clearly and compellingly communicated the why will unconnected people see the essential qualities of what you are asking them to do. And only then will how to do it become relevant. Far too many of us are starting the conversation with how to get connected, overlooking the need to articulate what a small group is and never getting around to crafting a compelling why.

3) Discipling and developing small group leaders is an essential activity, not a nice extra. This is why an effective small group coaching structure is not something you build later. You must acknowledge that “whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first.” That makes discipling and developing small group leaders an essential activity.

4) Guiding the selection of study material is responsible, not intrusive. Responsible parents make certain choices for their children. Parents may go above and beyond to prepare meals that are nutritious and appealing, but knowing the importance of a nutritious diet, they don’t delegate meal planning to their children. In the same way, guiding the selection of study material is the activity of responsible small group point people. If you are providing little or no guidance you should not expect to produce mature disciples.

Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV, and as LifeWay's Small Group Specialist. He founded SmallGroupResources.net, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and ChurchCentral.com. Visit Mark Howell at www.MarkHowellLive.com/about