5 Blind Spots That Derail Small-Group Ministries

Small groups
Have you avoided these blind spots in your church's small-group ministry? (Lightstock)

I think we all know what a blind spot is, especially when it's in our car. It's that spot that you can't really see when you're changing lanes or backing up.

If you've seen the movie Blind Side you know what it means in football (and you know the role of the left tackle). What you may not realize is there are a few natural blind spots that affect small-group ministries everywhere.

Think you might have a blind spot or two? Here are 5 of the most common ones for small-group ministries:

1. Unnecessarily high entry standards for leaders. We all want leaders who are truly capable of shepherding the members of their groups. All of us dream of group leaders who will do to and for their members the things that will produce life-change. All of us want that. At the same time, entry levels that exclude the very people Jesus chose (Peter, Matthew and James), are Exhibit A of the blind spots that affect small-group ministries everywhere. See also, "Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar."

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2. First steps that require extreme commitment. First steps that require a 12 months or 18-month commitment are obviously extreme. What about first steps that are 10 to 13 weeks? Guess what? They seem an eternity to unconnected people. Think about when you took a first step into a new habit. Did you commit to a year? Or a year and a half?

Unconnected people will only take a first step that is easy. A one-hour commitment? Done. A 4- to 6-week commitment?  Maybe. A one-year commitment? Not a chance. If you're not offering a one-time test-drive or a 6-week toe-in-the-water experience, you have a blind spot you don't even know about.  See also, "Creating Connecting Steps that Are Easy, Obvious, and Strategic."

3. First steps that require near psychic intuition. How easy is it to figure out what to do first? Must I be psychic? Do I have to do the hard work of figuring out who to call or where to click? Remember, I'm barely interested. And my husband (or my wife) will have to be bribed. Whatever you want me to do first will have to be so easy even a caveman can do it. It won't require 3 clicks to find on the website and your receptionist will have to know the answer. See also, How Would You Rate the First Steps Out of Your Auditorium?

4. Interpretation for the unconnected. Do you have an interpreter for the hearing impaired? The unconnected people in your auditorium do not read lips and are not able to read between the lines. If you want to connect unconnected people, your weekend teacher and every announcement and communication must provide explicit instructions that cannot be misinterpreted. Offering "several ways that you can get connected here at First Community" only insures that unconnected people will hesitate and wait for clarity. See also, "Small Group Ministry Roadblock #2: a Bloated Belong and Become Menu."

5. A menu that pacifies the status quo. Do you have menu items that only interest the already connected? You know what I'm referring to. Whether you want to connect unconnected people or provide legitimate next steps for the already connected and under-committed, you must de-clutter your menu and only feature legitimate next steps. Including "steps" that only collect attendees and don't actually lead anywhere are sideways energy and must be eliminated or retooled. See also, "Which Customer Is Your Ministry Designed to Connect?"

Mark Howell is the founder of smallgroupresources.net, committed to helping churches launch, build and sustain healthy small-group ministries. He's also the pastor of Discipleship Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. You can read Mark's blog at www.markhowelllive.com or follow him on twitter.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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