In terms of small groups philosophy of ministry, the open or closed group question is very big. Both sides have some good arguments. Like every other argument there is no problem-free solution. Although I believe there are times when it is both appropriate and beneficial to “close” a group, for the most part I am solidly in the open group camp. Here are my top 10 reasons:
10. Eliminates the need to “card people at the door!”
9. One less idiosyncrasy to explain to interested newbies.
8. Adding a new person to a group often causes new details to be added to old stories.
7. Gives an opportunity for includers to include, reach out, and help new members to feel part of the group.
6. Creates opportunities for new friendships.
5. It counters the “me-first” attitude of the culture when I’m willing to share what I have.
4. A growing group opens new doors for putting the needs of others above your own.
3. Without new blood, relationships can become stagnant.
2. If grouplife really is essential to me, I will be most persuasive when I invite you to my group.
1. The closest friends of the newest people in your congregation will never be easier to invite than in the first 3 to 6 months.
Admittedly, if you’re any kind of debater you can come up with counter arguments for many of my top 1o. Let me be clear though. I believe that reason number one trumps any potential good that can come from a closed group system. Relationships that members of closed groups had with outsiders will almost certainly have faded once they’ve completed 12 to 18 months. In the sense that there’s an upside and a downside to everything…that is a huge downside and solidly puts me in the open group camp.