Archives For health

There’s a lot of talk about what small groups need to look like. How they need to be structured, what they need to study, and where they need to go.

Through all of this, group leaders can become overwhelmed. Group leaders want to have a healthy group, and instead of adding more to their plate, it’s time to start taking things away. There are tasks that are killing your group. And killing you, too.

Let’s quit those together.

10 things a group leader should stop doing

1. Stop talking so much.

Group leaders need to listen way more than they talk. Listen to stories. Listen for pain. Listen for God’s voice in the midst of their group. Instead, most group leaders want to try to impress their group by how much they know and how close to God they are.

But that’s not what group members are looking for. And they’re not impressed.

2. Stop thinking so much.

Just love people and lead them to Jesus. Don’t make it so difficult. When you’re consumed by “planning,” the heart of the group gets lost. If you want to stop your group from sliding off of the hill, stop thinking so much. Let the Spirit prompt you in the moment. Maybe you’ve been relying on your plans and your agenda more than you have on God leading you. Instead of your leadership flowing out of your relationship with God, it’s flowing out of your to-do list.

3. Stop canceling group meeting.

This has got to quit. Let your group know that the weekly meeting is happening, even if it’s just you and your spouse. Don’t cancel because half of the group is out sick. Let this be an opportunity to get to know the other half of your group in a way you can’t when everyone’s there.

Oh, wait…you, the leader aren’t going to be there? Then it’s a perfect time to give someone else the reigns and help them develop as a leader.

4. Stop meeting every week.

(Hey, it’s my blog. I can contradict myself if I want. :-) ) It might be time to give people a breather. Take a week, or two, off. Recharge for what’s coming. Let people invest in their family. Let people relax. Then come back ready to dive back into small group.

5. Stop sticking with a curriculum even though it’s terrible.

If a curriculum isn’t working for your group, throw that junk away. It’s not worth driving your group into the ground over. You might even put the curriculum down for the night and just study the Scriptures together. Try asking these 3 questions of a text:

a. What does this passage say? (just repeat it in your own words)

b. What does this passage tell me about God?

c. Based on what this passage says, what are you going to do?

6. Stop simply studying together as a group.

Small group life is so much more than just a Bible study. It encompasses doing life together, not just studying together. Serve, pray, go, do, and laugh.

7. Stop viewing group as a 1.5 hour program.

If you want to stop doing something today that will have a huge impact quickly, then stop thinking that your group is relegated to a 1.5 hour meeting once/week. Work it in your schedule to meet with at least one person/week in your group outside of your normal meeting time. At this meeting, just get to know them a little better. Buy them a cup of coffee, and listen.

8. Stop being scared of “obedience.”

Sometimes you’ve just got to push people. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and you’ll probably get pushed back. But small groups help people obey, not just know, the Scriptures.

9. Stop telling people what they have to believe.

Give people space to explore. Push towards obedience, but give people the freedom to explore their relationship with Jesus without feeling like they need to have all of the answers and have all of their life figured out. Let them know it’s really okay to be “in process.”

10. Stop making group boring.

Shake up your routine. Change locations, studies, discussion facilitators, or prayer time. Plan a retreat, or give some practical homework. Or just throw all of that out of the window and play a game with your small group. Routines are good, but they can work against you if you stick closer to those than you do to the mission of your small group: helping people take steps of faith together.

Anything else you’d add, that a group leader should stop doing?


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I attended the ReGroup conference at North Point this year. I decided to post some of the notes. To see all of them, click HERE.


How do we know if our ministries are working? Is it stories or is it statistics? Yes. Stories and statistics are not mutually exclusive. The measurements that we track help us tell the story of our ministry…about what has happened, what is happening, or what will happen. They help us know if we are “winning.” Measurements matter, so we measure what matters.

I. Where stories and statistics intersect

A. “Story” people and “statistics” people

  1. Stories engage the heart
  2. Statistics engage the head.
B. As a church, we are both organism and organization.
  1. Organism without organization is chaos
  2. Organization without organism is lifeless

II. Involve the right people

A. Establishing measurements must be a collaborative effort.

B. Establishing measurements requires diverse perspectives.

  1. Ministry involvement offers the perspective of ownership.
  2. Manager involvement offers the perspective of oversight.

III. Leverage best practices

A. Tie to the strategic

  1. Vision (life is better connected, which is why they measure “connection”), mission (to lead people into a growing relationship with Christ, which is why they send out a survey 2x/year to people in groups), and strategy (to create environments where people can grow, which is why they track the number of groups and the number of people in groups) must drive all measurements
  2. For each area of the organization, measurements must be developed around a clear win and critical factors of success. They measure 4 things: group participation, leader apprentice (for future growth), leader retention, and leader training
B. Tips on the tactical
  1. If you can’t or won’t change something, then don’t ask for feedback
  2. When relevant, use rations 100% of the time. This makes it easy to compare over time.
  3. Track over time to establish targets. You have got to have trends.
  4. Don’t marry your metrics.

IV. Follow up the right way

A. We don’t make decisions based on measurements alone.
B. We do…
  1. Open conversations. We believe the best, and don’t assume the worst.
  2. Start explorations
  3. Plan ahead…use numbers to look forward
  4. Benchmark standards
  5. Celebrate success. Don’t just focus on gaps.


The church is people and every one of them has a story. Our measurements must always be complemented with the stories of the people they represent. But stories, like numbers, can be manipulated. Therefore, it is not one or the other. We must walk the path between the ditches of the lifeless, organization-only mentality and the chaotic, organism-only approach. This is wise and skillful leadership; this is where sustainable growth is found. What you manage shows what you value.


Measuring new small group health

Ben Reed —  September 12, 2012 — 7 Comments

When a group leader launches a new small group, they’re curious. They want to know if they’re going to have a successful group. They don’t know if their group is going to stick, if people will come back, or if they’ll take steps of faith together.

How do you know if your new small group is going to “work”? How do you know if they’re going to stick together and grow and have dynamic stories of life change?


image credit: iStockPhoto user Daft_Lion_Studio

Is it that you have solid biblical discussions right off the bat?

Is it that for the first few weeks everybody shows up?

Is it that they’ve already started talking about the group serving together?

Is it just that sense of “peace,” that fluffy feeling in your stomach, that you sometimes get?

I submit something different. I saw the #1 marker of success in the small group that my wife and I lead, and I saw it last night. How do I know we’re going to have a successful group?

They stayed at our house until almost 11:00.

And we started at 6:30.

Relationally, we’ve already made deep connections. When we say, “Amen,” we’re not done. Our group isn’t defined by our study alone. Our group isn’t defined by the fact that we meet on Tuesday nights. Our group isn’t defined by our life stage or our kids’ ages. Our group is defined by significant relationships, built around the stories God has written with our lives and the story He’s writing with us together as a group.

We’ve built authentic community quickly. It just took us a few weeks, but God’s woven us together beautifully. We’ve made a priority out of getting to know each other at a level deeper than the surface. And it’s working. Late into the night every Tuesday night.

If your group hangs around after you say, “Amen,” you’re doing something right.

Without significant relationships, your group won’t last. Mark my word.


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?


A Healthy Small Group…

Ben Reed —  March 30, 2010 — 4 Comments

I recently said this on Twitter:

So many problems in life could be solved by a healthy small group.

The responses I received really made me think about what components go into producing a “healthy” small group.

A “healthy” small group is one that accomplishes “the win” for your system.  Which means that a healthy group at our church may look a little different than the one at your church.  And that’s ok.  Step 1 is defining “the win.”

But there are certain things that “winning groups” do, right?  Do you encourage those things?

Here are a few that I’ve come up with for our system.

A healthy small group…

…stirs your heart to action.

…helps remind you who you are in Christ.

…helps you realize the all-encompassing nature of the Gospel.

…pursues unity.

…is full of people taking steps of faith…together.

…helps you realize the fullness of Grace.

…helps remind you that the troubles in this life will one day be over.

doesn’t wait until the group meeting to speak encouragement to one another.

…shares group responsibilities with each other.

…relies on each other when needs arise.

…isn’t satisfied with surface-level prayer requests.

…serves others.

…serves each other.

…has fun together.

…laughs together.

…gives people safe space to explore their faith.

…is a safe space for non-believers.

What would you add to the list?