Does Murphy’s Law Invade Your Small Group?

The icebreaker questions and resulting discussion came to a close. We were off to a great start. This led right into a 20-minute video lesson to be played from my laptop computer onto a large screen TV.

I clicked the play button to start the video. The video raced while the voices from the speakers sounded like an Alvin and the Chipmunks song. I tried desperately to fix the problem, without success.

The setup was checked out and worked perfectly before the meeting. So why did this happen?

Murphy’s Law

When things start going wrong, we sometimes blame it on Murphy’s Law.

What is Murphy’s Law?

Murphy’s Law:
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

There is no truth to this epigram. But it is convenient to be able pin the reason for things going wrong on a “universal law.”

We live in an imperfect world. Things can and will go wrong.

When we set a wake-up alarm at night, we expect it to wake us up at the correct time the next morning. But there is always the possibility it will not work for a number of reasons.

When getting up on time is critical, we do something like set a second alarm. This sounds better than just blaming Murphy’s Law, doesn’t it?

Risk Management

Fortunately, I had a backup copy of the video on my smartphone which was already connected wirelessly to the same TV. It allowed me to have the video playing for my small group members with less than a minute delay. This backup method was planned for when something went wrong with the computer or DVD.

Risk management is a formal name for a process that identifies what could go wrong ahead of time and then deciding what should be done:

  • To keep things from going wrong
  • To lower the negative impacts if things do go wrong

Follow these four simple steps to help avoid problems for your small group meetings and activities:

1. Identify What Can Go Wrong

Make a list of all the things that you believe could go wrong. This could include technology not working as expected, like in my case I described. It could be people who are unable to attend unexpectedly. Just think through what you do and what you depend on in preparation of and during the small group meeting to help make your list.

2. Assess the Level of Risk for Each Item

The level of risk is based on two components:

  1. How likely is it that the problem will occur?
  2. How bad will the consequence be if the problem does occur?

After thinking about answers to these two questions for the first item on your list, give it a risk rating of low, medium or high.

Repeat this step for each item on your list.

3. Identify Ways to Reduce the Risk

Starting with your high risk items, list ways the risk could be reduced.

For example, maybe one of your items is that you might not be able to attend and lead a meeting without warning. Here are a few ways you could reduce that risk without cancelling the meeting:

  • Have an apprentice who is on call at a moment’s notice to back you up when needed
  • Identify other group leaders who are willing to step in and lead your group when needed
  • Have a special small group format planned ahead of time that can be used if the small group leader is unavailable. These special meetings could focus on  worship, prayer, fellowship or service and can be led by others in the group who are gifted in those areas.

Do you see how planning for one of these methods in advance will give you a  stress-free solution even when you get sick or called away at the last-minute?

4. Reduce Risk

Select which methods of reducing each risk you’re going to implement and then start taking action now to make at least one of them happen. Don’t try to do all of them at once or you will become overwhelmed.

Question: When did Murphy’s Law seem to apply to your small group? What consequences have you avoided by planning ahead? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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