Many small groups in America are not missional. They are good at caring for one another and studying the Bible, which is good . . . but not great!
In Good to Great, Jim Collins discusses our need to “confront the brutal facts.” In Small Group Vital Signs, I set out to help you and your small group(s) honestly and diligently confront the brutal facts of your current reality in comparison to the truth of God’s Word. This examination may lead you to a major decision point in your life together and move you off your comfy couches to do something God-sized . . . or remain where you are and maintain the status quo.
Our Church’s Story
Status quo was not an option for us at Northeast Christian. In early 2009, I invested weeks of my time thinking and praying about how God wanted to move our groups to the next level so we could join him in that journey. Next, I consulted with other leaders and pastors I knew and read and re-read key resources, praying even more about what God wanted us to do. Finally, I adopted “Seven Vital Signs of a Healthy Small Group.” We developed and used an online assessment tool to survey our small group leaders on their perception of their groups’ health.
After tallying all the results, we clearly understood how well or poorly our groups were doing in the seven vital areas, which gave us a point of origination for our journey. We used this information to coach our leaders, share insights when visiting groups, and developed ongoing training to shore up weak areas or gaps in our existing training. (By the way, I included this assessment in Appendix E of Small Group Vital Signs and it’s also available online HERE.)
The health assessment data from our groups gave us energy, helping us see how we could help good groups become great over time. So for the next two years, we focused on the health of our small groups. We’ve learned that really good things happen when groups are healthy, which changed the way we strategically planned to grow the number of groups in our church. Instead of developing goals and plans based on starting X number of groups or leaders every quarter to connect hundreds of new participants in hastily formed groups, we have shifted our energy to deepening existing group health.
It’s been a journey filled with ups and downs, but we quickly began to see healthy groups grow and multiply on their own, making room for new members and new leaders.
This post is an excerpt from the Introduction of Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health that Make Groups Flourish. I talk more about our church’s story and what we learned from it throughout the book. By the way, the book is written for group leaders to help you as you lead your group to health. I also included an appendix for small group point people, with ideas on how you can implement the vital signs in your church.