Small Group vs. Team


Looking back over the past 12 years, if I could begin building teams all over again I would do many things differently. The main difference would be how I create teams. I would start all of them as Small Groups. Even the praise teams.

For a number of years I have tried to corral the artists in our church, I am not referring to musicians but artists. No luck, an occasional art show hosted at our church, a kid’s show, a staff art show (which was hilarious), but no ongoing commitment to the team. So, I let it die.

Just a month ago we launched the Crossroads Creative Arts Small Group. Not much advertising, just in the program and a description card added to our Small Group Hub. First meeting, twelve showed up. Second meeting, 15 showed up. Since then I have been contacted by 3 more interested in knowing when we meet next. Artists want community, not tasks.

I am fortunate to have 2 employees from our local Art Center in the group who think we can begin to meet at the Community Art Center. They have tried to get an ‘artists night’ open to the community started for years with no success, now they think our group may be the answer! Can you imagine the possibilities of reaching our community of non-churched artists?

I have had similar experiences trying to keep a Drama Team together. We waver from periods of continuous drama, to periods of very little drama. So trying to keep a working team together is impossible. On the other hand when I recently launched a Performing Arts Small Group, instantly we had 16 people sign up. I told them from the first meeting that we would sometimes be very busy and other times we would just do life together. They are excited and committed!

Now I have a second chance with our worship teams. With a recent exit and church plant by one of our former pastors (the plant was an independent plant in our town), we lost several band members. Out of difficult circumstances come God opportunities if we just watch for them! It’s the perfect chance to change things up.

At the beginning of this school year we solicited information to identify college students in our congregation. (I was desperate to add younger musicians and vocalists to our teams). Previous to this we have not had a college age group, so when we shipped 55 care packages at Christmas great things began to happen. When people feel connected and cared for, they want to be involved! Small group first, team second!

Here is where my next opportunity began, extraordinary young musicians began to not only ask what they had to do to be added to the team, they asked for more. They asked for mentoring, devotional studies, they wanted Small Group – not just a ministry team! They knew what they were looking for and asked for it! So I now move forward fully committed to turning all our ministry teams into groups.

Our process to be added to the Magnification up-front group is extensive and time consuming, but along the way they spend time together. They become a small group before they ever hit the stage. First, for the singers, there is a 6 week vocal class with our Worship Leader. They also have to take the Crossroads membership class and sign the membership covenant. If they pass the vocal class, they then have to create a CD and turn it into the leaders for review. If the CD is of high enough quality, they then have a live tryout in front of a panel of our top 3 singers with the staff worship leader. Sometimes new vocalists have to wait for an opening, so for a period of time they may be asked to guest when others are on vacation. They finally will be added to one of the teams and will serve one weekend a month, which is our rotation.

Our band has many of the same requirements. We re-mix the teams occasionally trying to create the right fit for each musician so that it is a small group not just a team.

All this to say, if I could begin again, everything I oversee would have its beginning as a small group. I encourage each of you to consider this. Life together is so much more than being ‘on’ a team, it is instead about being part of a group worth doing life with!