The power of strategic planning
Last weekend, I did a one-day training for the leaders and members of Calvary Church Melbourne Florida. Last September, I did a one-day workshop entitled Upward Inward Outward Forward, which helps whole small groups (members and leader) understand four areas of healthy small group life:
Connecting to Christ through consistent, daily time with God, increasing the amount of prayer in group meetings, and praying with other members of the group between meetings.
Connecting with other members outside of meeting times to become true friends. I stress serving others, asking for help and big favors, and learning to overlap their lives (shop together, hang together, eat together, exercise together, serve in a ministry that supports the Sunday gathering together, etc.)
Connecting with unchurched friends, family members, other students, neighbors, and coworkers. It seems people today have all but lost their ability to foster friendships with anyone... even people just like themselves. However, if there's any difference in opinions in politics, religious affiliation, faith, or lifestyles, wow... there's no desire to connect. I encourage relating to unchurched people socially well before any invitation to a small group is extended.
The fourth aspect I teach is that people need to "grow up and move out of the house" when it comes to small group membership. I challenge the members to abandon the "I like it here and don't want anything to change" mentality because it promotes personal stagnation... a very unattractive and smelly situation in which to find yourself.
Upward and Inward = Great Commandment
Outward and Forward = Great Commission
That's what I helped the members of Calvary's 31 groups plan to do more of last year when I taught there,
Last weekend I learned that it took the total number of groups from 31 to a whopping 52 group! While I'd never say my presence or teaching skills/talent was the key, I will say this: providing a time and place for whole small groups to come together and create a strategic plan of action works!
• It reduces leader fatigue and burnout.
• It involves the members of the group in planning and execution, increasing ownership.
• It gives potential leaders the opportunities needed to spread their wings and try leading out in a safe environment.
So what I did I train the groups to do this year?
• How to use a Blessing List (blogged about a couple of months ago... check the archives for more info).
• How to experience Christ's presence, power, and purposes when they met as a group (also blogged about a while back).
• How to form a core team and create plans for the next month of meetings and between-meeting activities (can't remember if I blogged about this or not, but you can find out about it from this article I wrote in my ministry's e-newsletter.
I have no doubt that I will go back one day soon and find well over a hundred small groups at Calvary Chapel Melbourne. This church's lead pastor places a high priority on their home group ministry, and the small groups pastor visits groups regularly to challenge them to love God, love one another, and love the lost with a time investment.
Pastor, when is the last time you visited one of your small groups to challenge them to be more and do more for God? When have you gathered your groups together for strategic planning? Do your small group members receive any sort of training and corporate encouragement, or is it all up to the leaders of the groups to do this?