Radical Future of Small Groups

February 19, 2010 - Mac Lake - Small Group Leadership
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Innovation LabThis week I had the opportunity to be at one of Leadership Networks Innovation Labs.  This particular Lab focused on The Radical Future of Small Groups.  During these two days eight churches (Seacoast Church, Cross Point CommunityChurch, Calvary Chapel Ft Lauderdale, Ada Bible Church, North Coast Church, Christian Community Church, National Community Church, North Ridge Church) gathered to discussed what cultural factors are influencing groups, look at what small groups might look like in the next ten years and develop plans that will help our churches make necessary adjustments.

The Innovation Labs aren’t designed to teach or tell you what to do, it’s more of a collaborative effort to think, dream, discuss and innovate.  Several of you on Twitter asked me to share notes from this two day experience.  Because it was such an interactive and creative process I didn’t take a lot of notes but here’s my late night effort to provide something for those who asked…

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    • The eight churches in the room brainstormed what they felt where the most significant societal changes over the past 20 years that are greatly impacting the future of groups…  There was a long list but here are some of the top answers.
      • Multisite
      • Instant Global communication
      • Social Networking – Technology
      • Missional idea is in vogue
      • Options for everything…more and more choices every where you go
      • Our third place is no longer the front porch…it’s now Starbucks  (home, work, third place is the other place you meet people)  For some the third place is Facebook.
      • Culture is desensitized, over-sexualized and more tolerant
      • Social justice movement (Bono One Campaign)
      • Explosion of addiction and Recovery as a result of that
      • Desire for personalized/customized spiritual journey
  • We have to make adjustments in small groups that help people stop compartmentalizing life and faith. 
  • There is a huge buzz around mid-sized missional communties that gather groups around a particular mission. 
  • Something needs to be done to engage the 20-30 year olds, they are black hole in the church.  Churches are struggling to engage them.
  • Small groups are the vehicle to make mission happen
  • When www.smallgrouptrader asked over 100 small group directors what their biggest issues where the top three were…  Recruiting, training and resources.
  • With the further development of technology churches are trending toward providing leadership training online.
  • Some church leaders are afraid to go the missional route because they’re afraid they’ll lose community and care but community and care actually skyrockets.
  • We used to think once people are discipled we need to get them to serve.  Today we get people to serve in order to experience discipleship. 
  • If you want small groups to be a priority in your church then make the gutsy move to eliminate the ministries that compete with groups.
  • De-centralize your missional efforts by empowering small groups to make a difference in the community.
  • The church has to pay attention to the social networking movement.  It’s not going away and while we still need face to face as our primary way of relating social networking can help sustain and enhance those relationships.
  • You can’t ignore the corporate culture of your church as you design and change your small group ministry.  Understand the values of your senior leader because you cant violate their culture.

What adjustments is your church considering with groups ministry?

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Mac Lake

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One response to Radical Future of Small Groups

  1. Great article! That gives us a lot to think about as we plant our church in Freiburg, Germany. Now to figure out how to apply it in our post-post-post-Christian setting. Keep up the good work over there!

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