7 Lessons from Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

Now is the time of year that churches all over North America are ramping up for a key season of ministry. At Redemption, we’re working hard to help people connect into our key environments of growth. A valuable resource for us in designing our approach to ministry was Sticky Church by Larry Osborne. Perhaps it will help you as you plan for the fall.

Sticky Church Larry Osborne

Larry, the lead pastor of North Coast Church, is a gifted leader filled with practical ministry wisdom. I’ve read a number of his books, and all have been helpful.

Here are 7 Lessons from Sticky Church

(All quote #’s are from the Kindle location)

1. Spiritual growth is generally the result of having the right resources when life turns up the heat. 

Most spiritual growth doesn’t come as a result of a training program or a set curriculum. It comes as a result of life putting us in what I like to call a need-to-know or need-to-grow situation. 571

2. Senior leadership must participate significantly for group life to be effective.

While many church leaders claim that small groups are an integral part of their ministry, I’ve learned that two simple measurements will always tell me their real place in a ministry’s pecking order: (1) the percentage of adults who attend a small group, and (2) the participation level of senior staff and key lay leaders. 652

3. It’s essential to have clear, obvious, and reasonable on-ramps into groups.

Instead of complex assimilation programs, a sticky church simply needs to provide plenty of ministry on-ramps to which members can easily connect the friends they’ve invited. 528

4. We need clarity on the primary purpose of groups and we need to accept that they can’t—and won’t—do everything well.

One of the most common mistakes I find churches making when it comes to ministry programming is that in every meeting and program they have, they try to accomplish everything they’re called to do. 1603

5. New people are always more attracted to new groups.

There is one grouping that works particularly well. It’s what we call New Groups for New People. In this case, the strong similarity among the group members is not so much a shared interest or station in life as it is a shared lack of established relationships. 1164

6. Leadership training needs to be relational, just-in-time, and perceived as valuable.

While our leaders wanted training (at least they told us so), they didn’t want it in the way we were providing it. When the time came, they wanted another night at home far more than they wanted the help we were offering. 2149

7. If people have a great experience with our church, they will tell their friends about it.

What matters is not the size of the church or the slickness of the programming. What matters is that those who come find a ministry and relationships worthy of spontaneous word-of-mouth recommendations. 397


Which of these seven lessons do you resonate with the most? Why?


Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

2 thoughts on “7 Lessons from Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

  1. I most resonate with the last point. Maybe it’s just because I am a woman and relationships/friendships are important to me. 🙂 They are all good though. Joe loved the book when he read it in 2010! He read me lots of parts, and we discussed it a lot, so I got a good handle on the book even though I didn’t read all of it.

  2. #5 reminds me of something Dr. Howard Hendricks says. When starting something new (like introducing small groups), work with the willing and with the new. In other words, don’t put a huge amount of effort bringing along those who have been around a while and are skeptical. Focus your energies on early adopters and with new attenders (who haven’t become institutionalized in their thinking).

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