Having a specific strategy when it comes to networking can immediately add value to our kingdom assignment. Without a strategy, though, you could find yourself wandering around aimlessly.
First off, I want to say that I personally believe that I can learn something from anybody. Anyone can sharpen me and help me grow. I try to maintain a diversity of backgrounds in my networking to keep my perspective well-rounded and balance.
With that in mind, I also use some guidelines when I’m trying to network for ministry growth. Here are few attributes I keep in mind when I’m trying to see my small group ministry breakthrough to another level…
Church and Groups Ministry Size. I look for churches and small group ministries that are one step ahead of me in numerical size. As I said before, I believe I can learn from smaller ministries and larger ministries, but I find it really helpful to glean from a ministry that has broken through to next level that I’m currently reaching for.
Sometimes there can be a tendency to only look to the largest churches for answers to our ministry questions. However, if I’m a groups pastor of 100 groups in a church of 1000 people, I believe I can learn more from a church of 1500-2000 people with 150-200 groups than I can from a church of 10,000 people with a 1000 groups. Why do I believe that? The church of 1500-2000 people is at the next level of numerical growth that I am specifically reaching for. If I can compare their leadership infrastructure, their equipping tactics and their level of excellence to our own ministry at my church, hopefully I can find some practical ideas that will help us increase our own kingdom potential.
Small Group Ministry Model. There about 10 different small group ministry models that churches use. Understanding the certain groups model a church has chosen in comparison to the groups model my church is using is a very important piece of information. It doesn’t need to be an identical model to our own necessarily, but I need to understand the similarities and differences. In some cases, it can be helpful to learn from a similar model in order to refine our current approach. In other situations, I might need to consider different models that would allow me to consider making necessary changes to what we’re doing.
Cultural Context. I also look for church leaders to network with that are working in a similar cultural context as I am. I work in a large city and highly populated region where people are busy. A lot of my church members commute to work 1-2 hours every day. Keeping that in mind, there are some ministry strategies that might work in a different cultural context that might not work in my own.
Church and small group size, ministry models and cultural context are dynamics I keep in mind when I do strategic kingdom networking.