Here’s the second part of this two-part series. Please read the first part here.
2. Trying to fit everyone into one nicely made church group model is what I call the magic silver bullet syndrome. The church believes that there’s one magic silver bullet (group model) that will work for every one and elevate group participation to 90% or higher. If the magic silver bullet existed, wouldn’t the model have been found already. 🙂 The problem, is that the magic silver bullet needs to encompass every possible scenario, that us ‘humans’, encounter. Let’s face it, humanity is complex with many inputs and outputs, and the magic silver bullet isn’t going to capture every scenario using one group model.
An example of how complex humanity can be, let’s shed light on how hard it is creating a successful group us. What if all the groups in the church were created based on lectures – similar to a college class setting. How would this setting appeal to someone who learns visually? Or yet others that learn by doing a task or reading enormous amounts of literature on one subject as their primary way of learning. Just in this one facet of humanity, ‘how people learn’, you can see one group model will not work and we haven’t even touched on other things like various backgrounds, how comfortable around others a person may be, age, gender, schooling, and so on.
3. Groups should address a variety of attributes like structure, people’s background, why a person joins a group, where a person is at in their life, and so on. Variety is the new normal. If we look at how churches gave sermons just 50 years ago compared to today, it’s obvious they have changed dramatically based on the attendees’ mode of comprehension, literacy, and technology. Even changes in generational demographics is vastly different. How the twenty-somethings digest information electronically to how the eighty-somethings may receive their information. Group structure will appeal to some and not others solely based on different demographics.
4. So what’s the church to do? As with most things it is better to build on what you are already doing instead of starting over. This is probably the best way to move forward and get more group involvement. For example, if Weekly Sunday School attendance is drawing 25% of the membership, don’t throw this out and start a group for children on Friday night. The church must realize that they will have to use various channels to get group participation. Stated earlier, variety is the new normal, and people want to attend church groups on their terms. The more channels the church can provide that compliment, enhance, and facilitate these personal attributes, the more group involvement you will have. After all there’s no magic silver bullet that will make creating these groups convenient for the church, as each will have a different structure and make up. If group involvement is important to the church, then the hard work to understand people, what groups should form, how they are structured, and so on needs to happen.
While there’s technology, like church management software, to manage people’s data; the hard-work of understanding the current groups in the church, why people join a group, its structure, the demographics, what’s missing, and so on rest solely on the church’s shoulder. Churches are the only ones that can really answer these questions, as every organization is different.