Author Archives: Chris Surratt
I occasionally get asked why I write the way that I write. If you have read a few posts on my blog, you will notice that they are not very long. A few thoughts or ideas and usually an application. The simple answer to why I write this way is – that is how I like to read blogs.
I commit a certain amount of time and attention differently to different mediums.
Twitter is a very quick glance, with little retention.
Blogs are a little more time and attention, but if the post goes past a page scroll, I will probably move on.
Books (yes, I still read books) are given a lengthy amount of time to read, comprehend and apply.
I think this trend has an application to how we train our leaders. Instead of using one method or medium for training, what if it was broken up into bite-size chunks that can reach people where they already are?
A short video that can be watched in less than 3 minutes on a mobile device.
A twitter account that is dedicated to 2-3 leadership thoughts a day.
2-3 recommended books a year, that are followed up with summary blog posts for further discussion.
Whatever we produce, it has to be mobile friendly. If it can’t be consumed on a phone/tablet, it probably won’t be consumed. It might be time to rethink what leadership training looks like in a completely mobile world.
My friend, Ben Reed, recently released a great book called Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint. In Starting Small, Ben helps you through the process of putting a small group ministry together. Through this book, you will discover how small groups can be a place where people belong so they can become. Ben is currently the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN area. He regularly blogs at BenReed.net, and I am excited to have him guest post here today!
I love Sunday morning corporate worship. It energizes me to worship with other believers, and be challenged by good, solid preaching.
But corporate gatherings alone will dry me up, spiritually. I need small group life.
You do, too.
Why Small Groups are Vital to Your Spiritual Growth
1. It’s too easy to hide in a large gathering.
It’s tougher to hide in a small group.
2. It’s too easy to be passive during a sermon.
Wallflowers don’t last long in a small group.
3. There is little to no accountability.
Follow-through is much easier in a small group.
4. We’re prone to think we matter too little.
Small groups remind us that we are loved.
5. We’re prone to think we matter too much.
Small groups remind us that others have problems, too.
6. We’re prone to think, “they need to hear this.”
Small groups challenge us to personally apply Truth.
7. We’re prone to think, “this is only for me…”
Small groups keep us from cycling into destructive self-pity and loathing.
8. When we cry, there’s nobody to ask us, “What’s going on?”
Small groups don’t let tears go unchecked.
9. No food is allowed in most worship gatherings. #Lame.
We eat well in our small group
10. “Be quiet while the pastor is preaching!”
Small group gives you time to have deep, life-stirring conversations with people.
11. Convictions go unchecked.
When the Spirit moves in small group, you’ve got time to slow down.
12. Specific needs go un-prayed for.
Small groups pray for the specific needs of their group members.
13. There’s no time for questions.
Small groups ask hard questions and allow for discovery.
Are you in a small group?
I have written before about how much I believe in church-wide campaigns – where every small group is aligned with the weekend series for a few weeks. I know that one of the most difficult components of pulling off a successful campaign is finding the right curriculum. I may be bit biased, but I think that I have found a perfect one to kick off the new year.
My Pastor, Pete Wilson, wrote an amazing book called Let Hope In, and they have now released the 6 week DVD study to go along with it. Pete was personally involved in writing the small group study because he sincerely believes that life-change happens best within the context of community. In this study, Pete realizes that we’ve all blown it. In fact, he knows that if we stack up enough mistakes, shame, and regret, that any of us could be forever hindered by our past. But Pete realizes and tells us that there’s hope—regardless of our history.
We are going to kick off 2014 at Cross Point with this study as an all-church campaign, and I would encourage your church to consider it as well. Click here to check out a digital version of the member guide.
If you decide to do this as a campaign in January, please let me know in the comments!
When looking through resumes for an open position we are hiring, one of the first things I look at is length of time at each job. It almost doesn’t even matter what the job was. I want to see if this person is willing to commit long enough to be effective. I see a lot of resumes where it is obvious that when the job gets “real”, they move on to the next one. I have been at dinners with other leaders where most of the conversation is based on what they want their next gig to be.
There are many legitimate reasons for leaving a job, but I also believe there are great reasons to stick it out. Here are 4:
1. It shows loyalty
When I am hiring someone, I want to know if they are going to be loyal to the team. The first indication of loyalty is how long they were at their former positions. If you are just looking for the next, great thing, I am not interested.
2. It takes time to see results
I believe that it takes at least 2-3 years to see real results at a new position. It takes a year to feel comfortable, and at least another year to see fruit from the changes. Most professional coaches are given 3 year contracts when they join a new team. They have 2 years to build their system and 1 year to get results from it.
3. Every job has issues
There is no perfect job. Without some resistance, we will never produce at our highest level. Most songwriters write their best songs when life is against them. The hero’s of the Bible were most effective for God after a period spent in the dessert. No matter how great a position is, there will be times when you hate it. The exponential results happen after you press through it.
4. Stability produces excellence
Amazing results do not happen overnight. If there isn’t time for the refining and rebuilding process, it will never be the best. So many people leave or give up when they are on the brink of producing something great. That’s where the hard work is.
I had the opportunity last week to hear Mark Miller from Chick-fil-A speak at an event that I was facilitating for Leadership Network in Dallas. Mark was sharing about how they have built a leadership culture at Chick-fil-A, and he said one of the keys to sustained leadership development is the capacity of the leader. Humans have finite capacity, but well-built structures have the ability to have infinite capacity.
I wonder how many of our small group systems take that fact into account? When your structure is built solely on the perseverance of the leaders, it will eventually stop growing. There is only so much that a leader, especially a volunteer leader, can produce before something has to give.
Here are five things that you can build into your structure that will allow your leaders to continue to grow without burning out:
1. Build in breaks to the schedule.
We cannot expect our leaders to continue to thrive if they are not stepping back from the whirlwind occasionally. In football, it doesn’t matter how dominating your defense is. If they are playing every down of the game without breaks, they will start giving up ground. There are natural breaks every year where leaders should be encouraged to take a breath and not worry about pulling off a normal meeting. They are usually refreshed and fired up to come back to it afterwards.
2. Provide easy to use curriculum.
If you are expecting your leaders to build their own Bible studies every week, there will be eventual burnout. There are great DVD based studies that take a lot of the prep-work out of it. It’s always a great idea to provide studies to go along with the messages on Sunday. The homework is showing up on Sunday, and it reinforces the message beyond just one day.
3. Train leaders to share the work.
Leaders are missing opportunities to disciple if they are doing everything for the group. The workload should be shared, not only to help the leader, but also to help group members discover their gifts. Each element of a group meeting should be carried by a different person, including facilitating the discussion.
4. Allow leaders to step away
While we would love every leader to continue leading their group forever, the reality is that leaders need to occasionally completely step away from it for a season to be healthy. Build in the value of having an apprentice leader so they can be ready to step in and continue the group. This might be a great opportunity for the leader to move more into a coaching role for a semester.
5. Model a healthy balance.
If you are not taking Sabbaths, you are not displaying a healthy ministry life for your leaders. The structure is only as strong as its leader. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to model the balanced life that you want your leaders to be living.