“What are the latest trends in small group ministry?” That was the question my friend asked recently. Makes sense to think about it. After all, as we’ve talked about many times, we’ve all got just one opportunity have “the greatest impact on the largest number of people for the longest period of time.” So it figures that you’d want to be aware of what’s being attempted in the ministries on the bleeding edge. Here are a few of the trends I am aware of:
- Missional groups is the trend getting the most attention right now. Whether you’re watching Austin Stone (or Community Christian Church), reading Scott Boren’s Missional Groups, Eric Swanson’s To Transform a City or Hugh Halter and Matt Smay’s And: The Church Gathered and Scattered, or checking out the Serve section of the Forest Hill Church website, the idea that a group ought to exist for more than personal satisfaction and fulfillment is on the front burner for many.
- Another emerging trend is an interest in a more intentional discipleship effort. Among others, Real Life Ministries is playing a key role in this conversation. I’ve written about both a book describing the approach and a discipleship method being used.
- The church-wide campaign strategy remains a very important trend in small group ministry. The number of off-the-shelf campaigns has increased each of the last 3 years with a growing number of publishers jumping on board. In addition, more campaigns are being produced in house by campaign savvy churches like The Oaks Fellowship (Act Normal) and Woodlands Church (Love at Last Sight).
- The integration of spiritual formation practices in grouplife curriculum is being driven by several publishers. John Ortberg’s The Me I Want to Be and James Bryan Smith’s apprentice series are just two studies that engage group members in the process of formation.
- Finally, I believe there will be more and more instances of story-driven visual media (like that being developed by City on a Hill and Liquid. Although there are still talking head DVD projects in production, I think there will be an increase in small group curriculum that engages the creative process.
Question: Have you picked up on a trend I’m missing? What are you seeing that might be significant? Use the comment section to add your two cents. You can leave a comment by clicking here.