7 Most Common Dilemmas of Small Group Pastors

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Mark Howell provides insight and direction to solve some of your biggest problems.

Call them dilemmas, issues or problems … we all have them.  Here are what I’ve found to be the most common … and some steps you can take to break through the barrier:

  1.  My senior pastor won’t be the champion of small groups.  There are several basic reasons for this.  Some don’t want to play favorites and choose one ministry over another.  Others feel like they’ve hired you to be the champion!  Either way, until your senior pastor moves into the champion role small group ministry will be limited.  What can you do?  See How Can I Tell My Pastor about This?
  2. My senior pastor isn’t in a small group.  This is a different issue than #1.  Sometimes they feel like they’re too busy.  More often than not they feel a little threatened by the prospect of letting down their guard with members of their congregation.  What can you do?  Suggest they assemble their own group of very trusted friends.  Several of my pastors have had hand-selected small groups with carefully chosen members who became deeply connected.  See also, Diagnosis: Senior Pastor Buy-In and 10 Commandments of Small Group Ministry.
  3. I can’t find enough coaches.  While this is a very common dilemma, it’s almost always a matter of intentionality, effort and vision casting.  We all have people that could coach and would be very effective.  Identifying them, recruiting them, and keeping them engaged is a challenge, but it can be done.  See also, Three Keys to a Coaching Tune-UpThe End in Mind for an Effective Coaching Structure, and Where Can I Find New Coaches?
  4. I can’t find enough leaders.  This is a big challenge, especially when we don’t know what to look for, where to look, or are looking for the wrong thing.  The solution is almost always about clarifying what it takes to be a leader and re-imagining how they are recruited.  See also, Small Group Leaders: Finding, Recruiting and Developing and Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar or Open Bar.
  5. My church’s buffet approach makes it hard for people to know what to choose.  This is a very common issue.  In my experience most churches actually offer a buffet and only rarely recognize the resulting challenges.  Is there a solution?  I believe there is. but it takes some work.  Choosing which of the menu items will be promoted in a given season will make a great difference.  Beginning to think strategically about how certain menu items can be refreshed to become strategic steps on the way to the right destination is essential.  See also, A “Plated Meal” Leads to a Church OF GroupsThink Steps, Not Programs, and Making GroupLife On-Ramps Easy, Obvious and Strategic.
  6. Our adult Sunday School directors think we’re slighting them when we promote off-campus small groups.  This is a common dilemma but not insurmountable.  The real secret?  Lots of sensitive conversations.  There’s no getting around it.  Lots of coffee.  Plenty of lunches.  Framing the issue in a way that opens eyes without cheapening or demeaning the value of on-campus strategies like Sunday School.  See also, But We Have Adult Sunday School! and How to Build a Small Group Ministry in a Church with a Sunday School Culture.
  7. We’re stuck in terms of percentage connected.  Almost everyone struggles with this dilemma.  It’s not unique to your situation.  The key to breaking through to a new level almost always has to do with diagnosing the very first step in your strategy.  Here’s the essential question: Does what you’re offering make sense to unconnected people?  See also, 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected PeopleWhat Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?Four Questions that Evaluate Small Group Model EffectivenessDo You Know This Connection Secret? and Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer?  
Mark Howell Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. 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.

More from Mark Howell or visit Mark at http://www.MarkHowellLive.com

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