Recently I was in a room full of some very experienced, very sharp minds when it comes to starting new groups. Admittedly, they were attempting to use the word “groups” to characterize both on-campus Sunday school classes and off-campus small groups.
At one point, a panel of four experts talked about their own personal experiences in starting groups. Imagine my consternation as I listened to their stories of starting one new group last year. One. Another expert talked about starting a new group every year for the last several. I’m not making this up.
It was a very frustrating experience. Honestly, it was fascinating and frustrating at the same time. I found myself equally fascinated by some of their conclusions and frustrated by some of those same conclusions.
At one point, the moderator asked everyone to take a few minutes and share with those around you “what you think are the biggest obstacles in the way of starting groups.” Again, it was frustrating and fascinating.
The Biggest Obstacles:
Keeping in mind that my answers describe the biggest obstacles standing in the way of both on-campus and off-campus efforts, here’s what I’ve got:
• The misplaced priority given to on-campus strategies. The most influential people need to become location agnostic. Why? I’ve long believed adults not currently in an on-campus experience are unlikely to add another 60 to 75 minutes and unchurched adults are extremely unlikely to embrace a three-hour Sunday morning. I often note how common it is for most of us to watch a 60-minute program in 42 minutes (DVR).
• The insistance that the best leaders have résumés. As long as we pursue the notion that leading a group has anything to do with experience ... we’re going to have a hard time overcoming this obstacle.
• The illusion of knowledge. The sense we’ve figured out how to do it, we know best, is a massive obstacle. The only way to break through is to admit the very best ways to launch new groups hasn’t yet been discovered.
• The lure of the status quo. This is the way we do it here. This is how groups happen here. We are a Sunday school church. We are a small group church. Unless we can break free from the shackles of the status quo ... we will not be able to beat this one.
These lies are told every day all around our country, and people are believing them.