A while back, I wrote a series of post entitled Why Small Groups Fail in America. Here I'd like to offer 6 reasons why small groups don't fail. Or Why Small Groups Work.
Reason #1: Pastors refrain from "fad hopping." There is no trick to making small groups work. There is no magical structure out there that will make groups work better than all the other structures. For some reason, over the past 20 years there have been a slew of different models and approaches offered that try and convince us that they have a new and improved approach. But the reality is that jumping from strategy to strategy actually distracts people. There are a lot of "right ways" to do small groups. And there is no one "right way". Figure out your right way and stick with it.
Reason #2: The senior pastor carries the vision for small groups. If this is not the case, then the best you can hope for is a small group program, not the development of community on mission that shapes the lives of the people in organic ways.
Reason #3: The senior pastor does not try to be the small groups point person. In most cases, the training, the gifts and the education background of the senior pastor does not fit what's needed of the small groups point person.
Reason #4: Churches hire shepherds, not program administrators to
oversee the small group system. Of course, if you are in a very large
church, the primary small group pastor should be more visionary and
administrative, but in most churches, the small group point person needs
to be a shepherd, a pastor who can invest in the people and in the
Reason #5: Leaders, both paid and volunteer, embrace the mundane.
Long-term small-group success lacks this sizzle that we so eagerly long
for. It has little fanfare. Small groups work when leaders operate like
shepherds. They do the under-ground, consistent, steady work of caring
for the sheep. That is hard to promote and measure. It’s different from
developing programs in the church which can be seen and measured as we
build buildings, develop budget-dependent programs and attract more and
more people to a centralized venue. Small-group ministry happens without
such clear sizzle. But it's the way people grow and it's the way that we impact the world with love.
Reason #6: Leaders take the time to work out the design flaws that undermine group development. While there is no ideal system, there are basic core elements that are a part of every effective small group system. Most churches just start small groups and fail to see the unseen systems that are needed to support the life of those groups. As a result, people think that if they get the right curriculum or figure out a way to get the right people connected that the groups will work. It's like throwing up a multistory building without the use of architectural drawings.
If you want to read more deeply on these six reasons why groups don't fail, click here.