4) Define who you want in small groups.
I know, I know, your first response is like mine and many others when they hear that statement; "everyone we say!"
While, sure, we want everyone to be in a small group; we have to come to grips with the reality that not everyone will be in a small group. It's just a fact. 100% attendance is an impossible goal.
I think deep down we all know that but we continue to say "everyone" because if we don't then we sound like we are excluding some people. Which is not true. We have to define the small group and allow others to decide for themselves if will they join.
I believe Larry Osborne has the best explanation when it comes to defining small groups. In his book "Sticky Church" he gives the below diagram.
5) Make room for different types of small groups.
As mentioned above, these two factors will flow together. Again, it's not to say one is right or wrong, it's a sober reminder of what to expect.
Now there are many different types of small groups, everything from the free market/ interest based to age based, location based, gender, G-12, Cell,... and the list goes on and on. The key is to (here's point #2 again) clarify the "win" for your church. Now I believe when it comes to churches that are older and more established that a "hybrid" of styles will exist and can exist successfully if everyone rallies to the same win, whatever that is for your church.
For example most younger age groups will function differently than groups made of of older individuals. To put a blanket definition of how a group should act, function and outreach is a little short sided. Teenage groups will look different than senior groups and so on. As they should. Different needs for different stages of the journey.
This is why (for me personally) I don't get hung up if the group just meets for fellowship or for intense Bible study; the style should not be focus as much as the goal. If "interest based" groups are creating transformation in peoples live and that group is growing, great! If "gender based or age based" groups are creating transformation in people and is growing, again great! My point is not to get hung up on style as much as knowing how to recognize when the end result is being accomplished.
6) Know when to have a funeral for a small group.
When you know what a win is, then it's easy to recognize when your not winning as much.
There are seasons for everything. Many times I've seen churches implement a small group strategy only to revamp it or re-launch the program in a couple of years. Why? I'm sure there are lots of reasons, but the one I've noticed from watching and even leading is due to the reason found in number 2 on the previous post.
The bible says it best, "where there is no clear revelation, people go in circles and die."
We start well, everyone hears the vision, people get excited, attendance is up, then life happens.
So we go back to the drawing board, or adjust the group to fit "everybody" or even attend a new Small Group conference to see the latest "how to" methods.
Nothing wrong with those steps IF that's what's needed. But too often our small groups suffer from the "drifting eye syndrome."
This is what's happened with YMCA. They just put out a statement explaining they are now going to go by the name, "The Y" because that is what everyone calls them anyway. (wow, I just went on their website to double check my facts and their logo is a "Y' with ymca in the corner)
When they started their mission was young man transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, thus the name Young Man Christian Association. Over the years they've drifted from their vision to becoming no more than a community gym. I find it interesting that there new name, "The Y" is fitting; it begs for the answer of their existence....."why?"
When our small group fails to know the meaning to why, it's time to prop a daisy next to it.