Do you have more groups today than you did a year ago? Let’s ask an even scarier question: at this point do you know what groups you have? Since either many churches have not regathered for worship services or a significant number of folks haven’t returned, I’m hearing a lot of pastors who don’t really know who’s still in their churches and who has left. Some have lost contact with their group leaders. Where did they go? It’s a strange year.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

You might be tempted to hit pause for this next ministry season. While you hope that 2021 will be better, for some it’s starting to look like a continuation of 2020. You might be waiting for all of this to blow over so you can start fresh next year. But, here’s the bad news – this doesn’t seem to be blowing over any time soon. This is a great time to reevaluate your approach to groups for 2021. Since nothing that’s worked in the past is guaranteed to work in the future, let’s get back to the basics of what you’re doing.

  1. What is the definition of a group in your church?
  2. What is the purpose of groups in your church?
  3. Do you and your senior pastor agree on the purpose of groups in your church?
  4. How quickly do you want to grow groups in your church?
  5. What obstacles are you facing in growing your groups?
  6. What are your people willing to do?
  7. How can your groups help your members and your community through this confusing time?
  8. How are groups actually more important than worship services right now?

This year has produced a significant curve ball. Churches had to scramble to put worship services online. Now that some are regathering for in-person services, not everyone is regathering. The challenge today is hybrid services, hybrid ministries, and hybrid groups. Everything is in-person and online, or it’s in-person and waiting for things to get back to normal.

While no one can accurately predict the future, I’ve had the opportunity to work with 64 churches in 2020. I’ve followed them in their journey to move services and groups online, bring back in-person services and groups, and for some to go back online again already. A few churches have never regathered for in-person services. (A few others never closed. Shhh.) The problem with being a church consultant in 2020 is that all of one’s experience prior to March 15, 2020 essentially became irrelevant. But, the great thing about being a church consultant in 2020 is tracking with churches of different sizes and denominations across North America and working out how to launch groups in 2020. In one of those churches, their groups have grown by 211% this year.

This is not a time for you to step back and take a break from groups. This is the time for you to step up and lean into groups like never before.

On November 9-13, 2020, I am offering the Small Group Reset: Five Days to Reframe Your Ministry. We will meet every day for five days in a row from 2-2:30 pm Eastern to wrestle with some fundamental questions about small group ministry in 2021.

Here’s what I know – you are working much too hard for the results you are getting. Knowing what most small group pastors and directors have invested, you should have far more groups and leaders by now. Let’s put our heads together and strategize for the opportunity that 2021 presents.

What are you learning about small groups in 2020? Let me know in the comments.

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