When I begin a coaching relationship with a pastor, I invite him to share his thoughts on the following questions. Just answering them seems to be incredibly helpful without any further assistance from me if the pastor is self-motivated, so I thought I'd offer them to you if you're interested, with a short explanation as to why I ask these questions...
1. What do you see as your church members' greatest weakness at the present time?
The churches that see their small group ministry "take off" and grow like wildfire are focused first and foremost on church member spiritual development and advancement, not just on group leader training/deployment or adding enough groups to keep up with visitor demand.
2. What is your church members' greatest strength at the present time?
Pastors often only see the inherent problems and don't see all the wonderful things about their members. Plus, if a pastor can harness the power of the strengths to raise the weakness shared in the first strength, he will be employing an important growth principle shared by Christian Swarz of Natural Church Development.
3. In what specific ways does your church emphasize prayer
If a church membership isn't a praying community, launching more or new groups and expecting them to be healthy is not going to be easy.
4. Are these efforts in the area of prayer working well and are they readily accepted by the membership?
Pastors do all kinds of things to get people praying more, but the proof is in the pudding... I am far less concerned with the programs and more concerned with the results when coaching pastors to move forward.
5. What percentage of the weekend attendance is a member or leader of a group?
I need to know just how saturated group life is within the larger congregation. A number between 90 and 110% of the total weekend attendance is one indicator that group life is embedded into the DNA of a local church.
6. What percentage of the weekend attendance is a member of the church?
This is a new follow-up question I ask because I recently was told that a church had 95% membership participation in groups, yet only 48% of the weekend attendees in the services were members of the church. This revealed a very big issue the pastor didn't really understand at first.
7. What percentage of the small group members have successfully completed your discipleship pathway?
This is an assumptive question, one designed to make a pastor stop in his tracks and really think about what is being asked. Most churches do not have a discipleship pathway to spiritual maturity in place for the members of their groups, and if they do have one, the group members are not moving through it as a "normal" part of church and group life. So by asking this question this way, we get right down to brass tacks and discuss the meat of this issue.
These questions, along with others in TOUCH's basic church health assessment (you can take it online for free by clicking here), give me (and the pastor I'm coaching) a much clearer understanding of why groups are working or not working well in his environment.