As we continue to build our team at The Unstuck Group, we are proud to introduce you to Chris Surratt, one of our newest ministry consultants. Chris has had the privilege of serving at two influential churches, Seacoast Church and Cross Point Church, for the last 20 years. Read on to get to know him — He shares his story of joining our team along with some leadership and small group lessons learned over the years.
MITCH: Could you tell me about your background and experience that led you to become part of The Unstuck Team?
CHRIS: I first met Tony Morgan when he was on staff at NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina and I was the Campus Pastor at Seacoast Church in Greenville. New Spring was launching their first campus in Greenville, so Tony and I would meet for coffee to talk about how our churches could partner to reach the whole city. I have followed Tony and The Unstuck Group since then, and have loved how they are partnering with churches of all sizes to help them get unstuck and take their next steps. When the opportunity came for me to step off of a church staff and pursue consulting full-time, I knew The Unstuck Group was who I wanted to work with.
MITCH: How/when did you discover you had a passion for helping churches get unstuck?
CHRIS: I have been informally coaching and consulting with churches for several years. I would receive emails almost every week from church leaders who wanted to learn how we were doing ministry at our church. Being full-time on a growing church staff only gave me so much time, but seeing the light bulbs pop on when churches would discover new ways of reaching people for Christ is what filled me up. A lot of the time, it was just giving them permission to take the bold steps that needed to be taken toward a new direction or initiative. Most church leaders know what needs to changed to be more effective, but they don’t know how – or have the tools – to change it. That’s what I love about The Unstuck Group – we give churches practical tools to help them get where they need to go.
MITCH: Your book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us comes out at the end of September. What sets it apart from the other books on church small groups?
CHRIS: I wrote Small Groups For The Rest Of Us because most churches in America struggle to have a significant percentage of their adult attendance in small groups. According to recent research done by Lifeway Research, only “33 percent of churchgoers attend classes or groups for adults (such as Sunday school, Bible study, small groups, or Adult Bible Fellowships) four or more times in a typical month. Fourteen percent attend two or three times a month.”
I believe life transformation happens best within the context of community, so if a church is going to be intentional about discipleship they have to develop on-ramps to small groups that reach people on the fringes and beyond. If we continue to offer small groups to the normal church attenders, a majority of the people who show up to church are never reached.
While there are quite a few practical ideas for small group leaders in the book, the heart of it is how we have to start changing the expectations for our groups if we want to reach the other 50% in our churches.
MITCH: What advice would you give to pastors and church leaders who feel stuck because their church isn’t responding well to small groups? How can they make this area of ministry more effective?
CHRIS: My first words would be: you are not alone. I talk to so many church leaders who are frustrated because they can’t get traction with small groups. I believe the vision starts with the senior leader, so if the senior pastor is not the ultimate champion of small groups (and attending one), the system will never succeed in reaching a majority of the church. People will only follow a leader where he is willing to go himself, and that includes small groups.
My second piece of advice would be to clear the deck as much as possible for your small groups. If groups are last on a long menu of ministry options during the week, they will lose every time. Doing life intentionally with other people takes commitment. It’s much easier to show up for a large ministry event than have accountability relationships. If you want your church to buy into groups, make them the easy and obvious choice.
Finally, we would love to help! Please let us know if we can come alongside to help create small group environments for intentional discipleship.