A few weeks back, the hard drive in my Macbook started making random beeping sounds when the drive mechanism was idle. Knowing that laptop drives don't last nearly as long as desktops due to the abuse they receive from constant movement, the occasional bump and intense heat, I called Apple and asked them to ship me a replacement drive under my extended warranty.
The package arrived Friday containing the new hard disk. With five minutes' work, I had the new drive snapped into place and the case re-assembled. I knew that would be the easiest part though... restoring all my files and programs was going to be the real time-killer. I had a great backup of everything, but putting it back in place so it actually works the same and looks the same is impossible.
This got me thinking about the overhaul many churches need to do with their small groups. They're still limping along, but all the signs of catastrophic failure are there if one takes the time to look carefully. Leader burnout, a lack of apprentice leaders, weak or non-existent coaching combined with an incredibly high staff pastor-to-group ratio, the absence of one-on-one discipleship among group members, little to no relational evangelism taking place naturally, spotty to non-existent connection time between leaders and the church (in other words, too few Vision-Huddle-Skills events) just to name a few.
When my hard drive starting making read-write noises, I considered buying one of those new Macbook Air laptops that's wafer thin as a replacement. However, Apple always makes everything they release much better with version 2 at the same price, so I decided to wait and upgrade next year. My current Macbook is zippy in performance and in great shape with a new hard disk in it now. I made the right choice to repair and not replace this time around.
Think about your small group ministry. Sometimes its easier to start over and upgrade than to attempt to restore something that's old and worn out. Would forming a new prototype group that lives out your churches mission as a pattern group for the future be easier and more effective than repairing your existing small groups?