Bad Idea #1: Let’s Call Everything a Group!

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In yesterday's post I wrote about 5 Stupid Things Churches Need to Stop Doing (in the name of small group ministry). In the post I pointed out that one of the stupidest things churches do is decide to call everything a group. Probably because I didn't spend a lot of time explaining why it's a stupid thing to do, I got a couple comments that deserve a response.

Why is calling everything a group a stupid idea? Why is it a bad idea?

Maybe we should examine the motivation first. There are several reasons churches decide to call everything a group.

Three reasons churches decide to call everything a group

  1. They have several belong and become options on their menu and they genuinely want to make it easy for unconnected people to find their next step. For example, they have adult Sunday school classes (or ABFs), a class like Precepts, and some off-campus small groups and they simply want unconnected people to choose one.
  2. They get complaints from their adult Sunday school classes when they only promote off-campus small groups as the best next step. They decide to call everything a "group" in the attempt to appease the guardians of the status quo.
  3. They have introduced new options but can't bring themselves to eliminate options that no longer meet their objectives.

There are probably other reasons churches decide to call everything a group, but these are the most common reasons.

Here's why calling everything a group is a bad idea:

First, calling everything a group is a bad idea because it lumps things together that don't accomplish the same thing.

For example, if your off-campus groups meet in circles, have rich discussions, are led by shepherd leaders who genuinely care for their members and do life together, while your adult Sunday school classes meet in rows, listen to master teachers, and mingle over a cup of coffee and a donut when their class dismisses at 10:15, but that is the extent of their experience...can you really call them the same thing?

What if they do accomplish the same thing? Then feel free to call them the same thing!

See also, What's the Difference Between a Sunday School Class and a Small Group? and Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.

Second, calling everything a group is a bad idea when it simply puts off a necessary conversation.

When your become and belong menu includes options that are no longer effective (or not the best way to do something), the wisest thing to do trim the menu. It is not the easiest thing to do, but it is the wisest thing to do. More options do not connect more people. More options make it harder to choose and harder decisions are procrastinated.

What if it's a really hard conversation? Conversations like this are about stewardship. While stewarding resources (budget, facilities, promotional bandwidth, etc.) is important, nothing is more important than stewarding the opportunities we are given to make disciples.

See also, Think Twice and Thing Again before You Approve the New Menu Item.

What do you think? Want to ask a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Further Reading: What's Better? Rows or Circles?

Image by Daniel Lobo


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