Back in May 2013, I was featured on Rick Howerton’s Blog with NavPress for a four day interview on “Small Groups or Mid-Size Communities?” He has since joined the staff at Lifeway, and thus the previous posts have gone away. Here’s the second post:
2. When you met with your leadership team, especially your senior pastor to consider the move from small groups to mid-size groups, what questions arose (and/or what conversation took place) that drove your church to move to mid-size groups?
Well, first of all, I try not to use the phrase “mid-size groups,” since most people like to create acronyms and this movement would become…well, let’s just say that the Asians would like the flavor of it. But getting back to your question, my senior pastor and the leadership team knew about the problem, as I mentioned in the previous post. The statistics showed that our small group system was good, but not great. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, our small group system was so successful, that we even hosted our own small group conference with Willow Creek’s Bill Donahue. This conference happened even before small group conferences were popular. However, as our church continued to grow, the percentage of individuals in small groups didn’t. There were spikes here and there, but no sustained growth.
Since the senior leadership knew about the problem, they were open to suggestions, but the ideas had to be well thought-out and processed through before any trigger could be pulled. After all, small groups had been such a powerful part of many our church members’ spiritual journeys.
The change management process was long and arduous, but it was well worth it. I could have done my research, written up a proposal, and brought it straight to the senior leadership, but I decided to take the better approach. This approach involved praxis, extensive conversation, and collaboration amongst staff, key lay leaders, and the unconnected in our church. Continue Reading…