Our small group ministry has been growing year by year. Our breakfast meetings with student leaders has been growing year by year – from 11 in 2010 to 35+ in 2013. Our monthly Thursday night Citywide Gatherings have been growing year by year from 40 in 2010 to 80 in 2013.
But our lunchtim
e preaching meetings have plateaued, and this year declined. I now teach more students at our breakfast meeting than I do at both our lunchtimes combined :-/
I anticipated this would be the case, which is why we started the Citywide Gatherings. It’s nice to be a bit ahead of the game with this. It’s a mix of the rise in part-time work, listening to lectures online, not hanging out on campus during the day and the growth of smaller satellite campuses around the city. It’s also that an evening meeting can offer a more holistic ‘experience’ (preaching, hang out, singing) that students will be motivated to come to, rather than a very simple lunchtime sermon meeting.
It is now getting so crazy-small that it’s just not good stewardship to keep investing the sheer staff hours into attending! (5 staff on Tuesday lunch, 2 staff return on Wednesday lunch – not counting sermon prep!).
I now have 2 questions to wrestle with: where else will the word be taught? And how will we redistribute these staff hours?
Where is the word taught?
- I preach for 45-70 minutes once a month at our Citywide Gathering (8 times a year)
- I have started preaching once a month at our student leader breakfast meeting this semester (8 times a year)
- We have 4 conferences a year: Pre-Season Conference, 2 Day Conferences and Mid Year Conference (9-12 sermons)
- Not all our small groups currently do Bible study, but we could make this compulsory
- We have a new faculty structure in place that could allow for an additional teaching meeting per semester in these faculty groups
A regular campus lunchtime ministry would have 12-13 sermons a semester. If we removed lunchtimes this would mean there would be 8 regular sermons a semester, not counting our conferences. Is this inadequate? I suppose it depends, in part on your commitment to public preaching ministry. I think it is borderline.
Where to re-deploy staff?
We now have 7 staff hours per week to re-deploy. What do we do?
- Just let staff absorb that time into the many other things they are doing – they are already busy (I think this is a dumb idea)
- Fill it up with 7 new mentoring relationships
- My friend Joe suggested we think of it across a whole year as roughly 40 days (7 hours a week, across a rounded off 40 regular working weeks a year). What could we do in 40 days?
- My friend Dan suggested we all look at our ‘I wish we could get to this but we haven’t had time up till now’ list. What’s something crazy, exciting and experimental we could do?
- We could channel the time into doing faculty-based teaching events (described above)
- We could deploy staff into the student-lead small groups to provide short spurts of intensive teaching/training/coaching?
Whatever we do, it’s pretty important the staff all own it. With extra time, it will be so tempting to accidentally go for Option 1, to not treat the new thing as urgent quite like existing work is. Add to this that new projects are always harder to get off the ground. There’s no use me just imposing this on the team. We all need to resolve to redeem the time well.
What would YOU do with 7 extra staff hours a week?