Friday morning at the Orange Conference 2019, Tom Shefchunas (Shef) kicked it off talking about small groups in a talk called Everything in Your Church Changes When Relationships Matter. Here are some notes from his talk:

Shef started out by saying he’s joked about writing things on Twitter with the hashtag #tweetablejustnottrue.

He then shared a quote from Orange’s newest book: “If small groups become the primary answer, then that ultimately changes everything you do.” — Tweetable, but is that true for you?

Do we actually believe that small groups are the answer? If so, then what are we doing about it? What steps are we putting into place to make it happen?

Maybe the quote should be changed to: “If small groups become the primary answer, then that ultimately changes everything you do… eventually.”

If we’re going to do this, it’s going to take time and it’s going to take work.

Because Shef has a math teacher background, he went to mathematical proofs and connected them to ministry for something he calls a ministry proof.

At #OC19, a ministry proof is an exercise to prove a complex strategic statement by using self-evident obvious, and “amen-able” truths stacked together like legos.

He then shared a few proofs.

Proof 1

  • My ministry has no effect on a kid who is not involved in my ministry.
  • One of the worst tragedies is losing a kid who is in my ministry.
  • I need to personally pay attention to who is leaving my ministry.

Proof 2

  • Some kids have to leave my ministry (move, divorce, parents change churches, alien abductions, etc.)
  • Some kids/students/families choose to leave my ministry.
  • As a steward of my ministry, I should find out why.

Proof 3

  • It’s harder to leave people than a program.
  • The more connected a kid/student is to a person (or people) at church the better chance we have to keep them.
  • I personally can’t connect deeply to all my kids/students and I need people to help me.

Proof 4

  • High quality Christians make high quality connections.
  • The higher quality connections we make the more we can do for kids and their faith.
  • The best way to communicate and nurture core aspects of our faith is within the context of a strong relationship (aka: Discipleship)

Proof 5

  • My primary goal needs to be: make relationships matter more.
  • I need to leverage every resource I have to ensure that kids have quality relationships and that those relationships grow.
  • I’ve got some things I need to change.

As you can see, when you go “all in” on quality long-term groups — not only will it change everything you do — group will become your answer to almost everything.

One of the truths (from the ministry proof definition): I need to personally pay attention to who is leaving my ministry. And this leads to a couple questions:

  • Do we really know know them?
  • Are we bothered by it?

If you’re willing to take a challenge to track and care about every kid/student who leaves your ministry over the next year, join The Prove It Project with Shef. Just text imin to 404-445-2198.


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