Assessing the Health of a Small Group Ministry

Principles and practice

I smiled a few weeks ago as I read a framed quote on a pastor's desk, "ministry is hard work—get over it." I am always a bit leery when someone wants to make simple the difficult task of fostering community in the body of Christ. While this happens in many areas of ministry, one of the most critical areas of small group development that people often over simplify is health assessment.

Questions abound as to how and where to begin, what areas to focus on, and so on. Despite the challenges of review, we know all too well that failure to make a regular assessment of our ministry will leave leadership pondering where our strengths and weaknesses lie and what, if anything, we should be doing about it. With that in mind, let me suggest three guiding principles that will help you keep your thumb on the pulse of your ministry's vitality. We can establish a clear roadmap for next-level leadership by following a few basic principles.

First, clearly define the areas needing assessment.

Ask this question, "What are the foundational elements of our small group ministry?" Stated in the negative, "What foundational elements do we ignore?" This is the simple idea of beginning with the end in mind. If the small group point leader is not clear on where the ministry is going, it is doubtful the senior leaders are all heading in the same direction. Mixed signals about direction will, in turn, create confusion among emerging leaders. Once established, however, these foundational elements provide the focal points for assessment. The good news is that there has been some great thinking centered around this topic. Tapping into this think tank can save you literally years of trial and error.

PRACTICE TIP: Most practitioners agree there are ...

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