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5 Keys to Building Your Small Group Ministry

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I have this displayed on my office whiteboard: “Vision without implementation equals hallucination.” I believe in vision. If you don’t have a plan for implementing your vision, you are wasting your time. Success involves the management of ideas. Ideas can provide wonderful breakthroughs for your ministry. However, trying to implement too many ideas at once can crush or fragment your ministry. Here are five important keys to begin building a solid foundation for your small group ministry:

1. Think church-wide.

Each local church is meant to be a unified body, working together in a coordinated way toward a common purpose. This means that as you plan your small group ministry, you should start by thinking church-wide. The weekend services, the small groups and the other church ministries all work together to achieve the outcome of a mature disciple—what Saddleback calls the Purpose Driven Life.

2. Plan intentionally.

Whole-church coordination doesn’t happen by accident. It takes intentional planning. As Christians, it is possible to get caught in the passive “If God wants it to happen, it will happen” trap, and this can often lead to … absolutely nothing. While it’s true that the Lord can and does make things happen, he has also equipped us to be his hands and feet. Therefore, the best kingdom outcomes require that we become intentional in our planning while depending continually on the Lord for wisdom.

3. Clarify success.

The coordinated functioning of your local body requires understanding clearly what success means for your church. What is God’s end for your church, for a disciple, that you must keep in view? This is defined in your church’s and your small group ministry’s vision and mission statements. Then it’s carried out in your small group ministry.

4. Align your systems.

Based on this definition of success, it is imperative to have a church-wide system that moves people along a comprehensive pathway toward the end destination of mature disciples. Without such a unified system, a new or existing ministry, like small groups, will follow its own independent path, which may not take people along the pathway to success for your church. You may end up with chaos resembling that of the Tower of Babel. Your church’s leadership must prayerfully communicate, align and work together to create a roadmap for your church that will help both leaders and congregants fulfill the church’s vision and mission, guiding every ministry toward success.

5. Define your plan.

Within the whole-church system, each ministry—including your small group ministry—must define and develop a comprehensive plan that fits within the system and helps achieve your church’s vision and mission. This is your ministry’s pathway to help achieve God’s end purpose for your church. Average small group pastors provide training. Good small group pastors have a plan encompassing only their ministry. Great small group pastors have a plan that is coordinated with the church’s vision and mission.

To take these 5 keys deeper and develop a strategic plan for your small group ministry, read Planning Small Groups With Purpose, new from Steve Gladen.

Steve Gladen has been pastor of small groups at Saddleback Church since 1998 and serves as an elder of the church. He oversees the strategic launch and spiritual development of more than 7,000 adult small groups on multiple campuses. He is the author of Planning Small Groups with Purpose and Leading Small Groups with Purpose. This article originally appeared on Pastors.com.

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