Three Small Group Ministry Moves That Pay Off…BIG TIME!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 6:50:00 AM Categories: Small Groups
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What if you could make three simple moves and dramatically improve the impact of your small group ministry?  Sound too good to be true?  Mark Howell is a brilliant small group ministry strategist who has helped thousands of church leaders make their small group ministries better.  Today we’re sharing an article he wrote that will definitely get you attention.


There are certain moves you can make in small group ministry that sound crazy, but pay off big time!  They actually have a disproportionately big return for the amount of effort expended.  They aren’t necessarily easy moves, but none of them are very difficult.

Here are three moves you can make:

1.      Plan a small group connection event that launches new groups.  Many churches use a small group fair to allow existing groups an opportunity to add new members.  A small group connection is a very different idea.  The genius of a connection is that it is designed to gather unconnected people at an event, sort them into tables by affinity (life-stage, geography, etc.) and then give each table an opportunity to choose a test-drive leader from amongst themselves.  Sounds crazy.  Pays off big time.  See also, How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection and Distinctives of the Three Types of Small Group Connecting Events.

2.      Challenge your best small groups to consider taking a small group vacation.  The small group vacation idea is a genius move.  Essentially, you’re just asking whole groups to consider taking a 6 week break from their own group to help jump start 2 or more new groups.  Since you’re not asking them to do anything permanent (you always assure them they can come back to their own group), it is a great way to expose additional potential leaders from your best groups to the joy of leading a group themselves.  The very first time I tried it, I had two groups of 20+ people agree to take a vacation and both groups started 7 new groups.  At the end of the 6 weeks…both groups had launched 6 new groups that decided to stay together!  We went from two groups to 14.  We also went from 40+ people connected to over 120!  Sounds crazy.  Pays off big time.  See also, Take a Small Group Vacation!

3.      Recruit a few test-drive coaches.  Know you need to add additional coaches in order to take care of your newest small group leaders but not sure where to find the coaches you need?  Consider asking a few of your highest capacity small group leaders to take a brand new leader or two under their wings for the next 10 to 13 weeks.  It’s not a permanent responsibility.  It’s a short term ask.  And it’s not an overwhelming responsibility.  It’s just checking in each week by phone or in person and having a conversation about how it’s going.  It is a fantastic way to find out which of your existing group leaders might be pre-wired to make an even greater contribution.  Sounds crazy.  Pays off big time.  See also, Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns.

What do you think?

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, 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 Visit Mark Howell at