Ask the Experts: Innovations in Starting Small Groups

Ask the Experts: Innovations in Starting Small Groups

Mark Howell is the Pastor of Engagement at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada

Mark, you have served some of the largest churches in America. You are a prolific blogger, a consultant, and a pastor. You were part of the original Life Together ministry team. You’ve seen many trends come and go. I’m grateful you’ve taken the time to share your wisdom and experience with us!

Before we launch into the innovation side of starting small groups, let’s talk a little history. What are some of the tried and true ways to form groups that you have found successful?

Okay, before anything else, let’s clarify what we’re going to call “successful,” and if we take the time to do that, it will help everyone understand what I’m about to say.

I’m going to call a group starting strategy successful if it is able to connect more unconnected people into groups than you have pre-qualified men and women ready* to lead. Defining success that way puts appropriate pressure on status quo satisfaction.

With that definition of success in mind, I think the three most successful strategies for starting new small groups are North Point’s GroupLink, Saddleback’s Small Group Connection, and Saddleback’s “if you’ve got a couple of friends you’d like to do the study with” strategy.

With the right promotion, all three of those strategies will connect more unconnected people and start more new groups than you have pre-qualified men and women ready* to lead.

A fourth strategy for success is North Coast’s version of a sermon-based semester model. It’s one issue that needs a workaround is identifying enough pre-qualified leaders. If you can do that, it can be very successful.

*The largest number of potential leaders in most churches have ...

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