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Note: this post is the second entry of a series entitled, “Rebuilding the Sunday School/Small Group Ministry in the Local Church.”

Author: Paul Keating is the Discipleship and Evangelism Pastor at First Baptist Church, Denham Springs, LA.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

2020 was a year that forced many churches—if not all—to think of creative ways to engage Small Groups. As a leader in your church, you’ve probably tried a lot of new things over the past year. Surely, some ideas flopped, due to the convulsive nature of this pandemic, but, some ideas worked out better than anticipated.

Here’s the deal… Being creative means failing a lot!

So, from one pastor who is fumbling his way through this, to another, here are some suggestions guiding my thought processes regarding engaging Small Groups:

  1. Think outside the box

Not everything needs to happen on Sunday mornings. Not everything needs to happen at church. Not everything needs to follow the same prescribed schedule. Things can change and, in our circumstances, must change and adapt to move forward.

  1. Keep your head to the ground

Listen to your people. Include them in your thought processes and brainstorm with them. In this process, you’ll discover that you are also building up leaders and receiving “buy-in.”

  1. Leverage technology where practical

There is a lot of useful technology out there that we can and should use. However, there are times when introducing new technology or the overuse of technology will actually hurt our efforts. Key statement: Know your people. Are they going to be able to use the technology as intended? Is the effort used in training your people to use the technology worth their time or would the effort be better used elsewhere?

  1. Communicate and unleash your leaders!

For you and your leaders’ creative output to be best used, you must effectively communicate your vision. Studies show that Small Groups grow when there is ongoing communication and training with leaders. Keep your leaders in-the-know and their ingenuity will surprise you.

  1. Ask around and adapt new ideas

Most pastors and church leaders love bragging…(cough), I mean, sharing what’s working for them. (It’s ok if we’re bragging on Jesus!) Take notes and adapt good ideas to your context.

  1. Push the boundaries

Creativity means trying some crazy things. Don’t be afraid of this. Do the front-end work of thinking through it, but at some point, you have to take action. I suggest creating “lab” Small Groups. Ask one or two of your more adventurous leaders to spearhead the idea or plan.

  1. Avoid decisions that in the long run will hinder you

This is my caution to you–change for the sake of change is foolishness. Make changes that will move people toward spiritual growth and transformation. Remember, this pandemic won’t last forever. Structure your ministry now to grow into the future.

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Louisiana Baptists are a statewide association of over 1,600 Baptist churches connected through a common mission. These churches minister both separately and cooperatively to reach our common goal to help every person find help, hope and encouragement in the midst of a busy world.

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