Tag Archive - sticky church

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Making Small Groups the Hub of your Ministry

This past week I had the opportunity to spend some time at NorthCoast Church with Larry Osborne and his team to talk about Leadership and Small Groups (I’ll post more take aways in the weeks to come). If you don’t know already, NorthCoast is an outlier when it comes to small groups and you need to get to know these guys. While the norm across the nation is hovering at about 50% of weekend worship attendance in groups, NorthCoast is shattering that norm and boasts just over 90% of their weekend worship attendance in groups. That was enough for us to get on a plane and spend some time learning from these guys. Here are a few of my take aways:

1. Cut the Competition

You’re doing ministry in a world where people will give you 2 time slots. Leaders will give you 3, and ministry animals will give you 4. Consistently across the nation, every time you see a higher percentage of people in groups you see less competition for groups. That means fewer classes and other programs (menu driven ministry) for people to choose among. Groups become the step, not a step.

2. Limit midweek Children’s Events

Midweek kids ministry will kill your small groups because parents will always choose their children first over their small group. See above.

3. Important People are in the Important Things

Simply put, if your top leaders are not in Small Groups then Small Groups are not important. If your Staff are not in a Small Group then Small Groups are not a big deal.

4. Count and Respond to the Facts

You can’t respond to reality if you don’t know what reality is. That’s why you need to keep attendance in your Small Groups. In churches we’re often guilty of counting numbers instead of faces. We may think that we grew by 100 people in groups last year but because we don’t count faces and only numbers we could have grown by 300 and lost 200 and never knew.

5. Measure Retention

The most important measure of organizational health is retention. This is why you need to measure not just the high water mark of sign ups but also the retention of volunteers, of Small Group participants, & leaders.

6. Talk Like Everyone is in a Group

It may sound counterintuitive but a constant drip is more powerful than the momentary splash of large-scale marketing. This is why you need to make a reference to Small Group homework & conversations somewhere in each of your weekend sermons. This is not an advertisement or announcement, but a normal part of the conversation. For example: “I don’t have the time to talk about this but you’re going to talk about this in your Small Groups this week.”


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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sticky church

People end up coming to church for a myriad of reasons. Motivations range from church was something that they grew up with and is a cultural norm in their life, to a moment of personal crisis, a simple invite by a friend, and sometimes even a cleaver marketing campaign by a local church. But what makes them come back, what makes them stick?

In his book, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne does a great job of addressing the leadership tension between the front door (getting people in) and the back door (keeping people in) of the church. In it he asserts that, “As long as the front door remains larger than the back door, any church will appear to be growing. But sooner or later the front door can’t get any larger; either the budget or the skill set runs thin.” He goes on to explain that many pastors are guilty of using the people they already have in order to reach the people they want to reach. Instead of viewing their church as a flock to care for, lead, and tend to they often become viewed as a tool to get to the pastor’s dream…and that’s a dream that needs to die. If this has ever been an issue that you’ve had to contend with, you know first hand that by the time the indicators of a problem with the back door begin to rear their ugly head more often than not the problem has become so large and so complex that it takes a serious time, resource, and people commitment, and often times the courage to make some very difficult and far reaching decisions to wrestle this down.

You might need to spend some time addressing the backdoor at your church if you can identify with the following list:

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation