I have a Starbucks “Black Card.” It’s supposed to give various perks, one of which, from day 1, was free refills. Until today. I asked for a refill, gave the card to the cashier, and she said, “Do you have money loaded on this card?” I said, “I don’t need money loaded on it…the refill should be free.” She said, “Nope. Not on this card it’s not. You need a different card for the refill to be free.”
Starbucks is supposed to be the king of consistency. A Hazelnut latte should taste the same in Belgium as it does in coffee mecca (Seattle). They should look and feel the same wherever you are. Consistency, and brand management, help people to feel “at home” when they go to a Starbucks that’s not their regular shop. But when that consistency is broken, and that which used to go along with the Black Card changes, things no longer seem as…well…consistent.
A while back, we had a small group that was really struggling getting people to show up. They had been meeting for 6 months, and had moved from 18 folks to 8. The leader and his wife were incredibly gracious hosts, gifted in ministry, lovable, and fully bought into the mission and vision of Grace (our church). I sat down with the leader to try to troubleshoot. As I talked with the leader, and other group members, we came to the same conclusion. Here’s what was happening.
The group leader was gifted in teaching, and had great ease in front of people. He was also incredibly busy with work. That deadly combination led him to not work on (or lead his group through) any kind of curriculum (not that every group needs to have a curriculum, but every group should have a plan). In short, from week to week and month to month, he wasn’t taking his people anywhere. Instead, he would show up each week and just start throwing out thoughts and questions randomly, relying on his gift of gab and natural ease in leading people. This led to frustration as the group members never knew how to prepare for their small group time. They didn’t know what to think through, what to read, or what questions to be prepared to answer. The group members never knew what to expect, and never knew where the group was headed. Trust was never built, and the group fizzled out.
While it’s not vital that your group utilize a curriculum, it is vital that you take your group somewhere. With no understood goal, it’s impossible to know whether you’re “winning” as a small group or not. If you have no idea where you’re taking your group, now’s the time to figure that out. Don’t wait another day. Begin praying now, and talking with your group through it. Then consistently work to accomplish that goal.
Without consistency, people don’t know what to expect. Consistency allows trust to be build. Trust encourages the group to speak truth into each others’ lives. Speaking truth into each others’ lives spurs growth in godliness. And a group growing in godliness is a healthy group.
How are you building consistency into your group time, without allowing things to grow stale?