4 Things Small Groups Are Not (or shouldn’t be)
I’ve written a lot about what small group ministries should be (to thrive, to be effective, etc.). But I don’t think I’ve ever written about what small groups aren’t or shouldn’t be. See also, 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
Take a few minutes and look over my list of 4 things small groups are not (or shouldn’t be). You may discover you’ve landed on a system, model or strategy that focuses attention on a limited outcome.
Here are 4 things small groups are not (or shouldn’t be):
Simply about connecting people. Far too often, small group ministry becomes the primary place to connect people and what happens there is limited to fellowship alone. Yes, connecting unconnected people is very important and makes sense strategically to be step one on the making better disciples pathway. But…the most effective small group ministries learn to connect people and make disciples in the 21st century.
Mostly about learning about the Bible. Some small group ministries gravitate to the role of being an environment where people go to learn about the Bible. Yes, learning about the Bible is important. But learning about the Bible ought never be the sole purpose or reason for small group ministry.
Without intentionality, small groups naturally gravitate to two of the five purposes (fellowship and discipleship, to use a Saddleback understanding) while ministry, evangelism and worship are left on the sideline.
With intentionality, small groups can be encouraged and assisted to “balance” the purposes and more effectively make better disciples.
See also, Balancing the 5 Purposes.
Where serious disciples congregate. Some small group ministries become the place where serious disciples gather. Setting the entry bar too high and limiting participation to those who are ready to “take up their cross and follow Jesus” as opposed to simply being open to “coming and seeing” skips the preliminary stage that Jesus modeled with his own disciples.
Effective small group ministries make entry attractive and appealing to unconnected people and once connected provide the natural steps for greater commitment.
A stage to be completed. A simplistic understanding of Willow Creek’s Reveal study is that small groups are most important during the Exploring and Growing in Christ stages and less important during the Close to Christ and Christ-Centered stages.
The conclusion for some has been that groups are only beneficial for those exploring Christ or growing in their relationship with Christ and that once a person matures beyond that stage, they no longer need community. However, even a cursory review of Reveal’s findings reveal that more mature believers often develop more organic relationships that accomplish the desirable effects.
What do you think? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.