Chronic Jump-start Syndrome

Is your church stuck in the cycle of relaunching small groups?

When small group ministry goes through a significant downturn or decline, it may become necessary to declare the ministry terminally ill and begin planning and praying for a resurrection. The resurrection may involve a total restart of the ministry.

More often, a small group ministry receives a diagnosis of sick rather than terminal. The sickness may have the symptoms of declining participation, little motivation for outreach, a lack of equipped leaders, or the absence of a small group ministry point leader. Regardless of which of these situations the ministry finds itself in, there may be a need, at the church-wide level, to do a "jump start" to get the small group ministry revived and back on track.

When you determine a small group ministry is sick, the jump start may take the form of a church-wide campaign, a several week-long rally, or even a seasonal kickoff. The jump start might include a special emphasis at weekend worship gatherings, simultaneously starting several new groups, initiating a small group outreach program, selecting a curriculum that all groups may do together, or just emphasizing an overall small group theme that each group focuses on during a specified period of time.

When the jump start works, small groups grow, new leaders emerge, and Biblical community increases. For some churches, the momentum created by the jump start is sustainable, and small group ministry thrives over many seasons from one jump start.

However, in many churches, after the energy of the jump start wears off, the ministry situation drifts back to the pre-jump-start level. Many church leaders then conclude that what the ministry needs is another jump start.  Another jump start is planned and implemented, which again gives the overall ...

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