Monday, March 18, 2013

Why small groups?

It is hard to find a pastor or church consultant who does not see the value of small groups. Recently Rick Warren Tweeted, "A church's & is revealed in its small groups, not its pulpit! A Body's is in cells, not its mouth!" I know of few that would disagree with this statement.

However, the reason for doing small groups varies greatly. Why church leaders put energy into the development of small groups will shape to the kind of strategy or system it develops. When you read the various books on small group strategies, on the surface it looks like all of them are aiming at the same thing or at least something very similar. But when you look a little deeper and when you look inside churches and how they talk about their groups, the wide variety of motivations is revealed.

Consider the following:
  1. Small groups is one of the systems required to make the church work well. In other words, the goal is to set up groups to make the church as a whole work well. This system is set beside a lot of other systems, but usually the small groups are developed to support the Sunday service.
  2. Small groups as a way to close the back door. This one is related to the first, but it is slightly different. The motivation here is to create small groups that assimilate and connect people into the life of the church.
  3. Small groups as a way of producing the fruit of discipleship and developing leaders. Here the goal is to help individuals grow in their walk with Jesus.
  4. Church is organized with systems to make the groups work. With this motivation, the small groups are elevated to a very high level of importance, as important as Sunday worship attendance. All of the church systems are developed with a goal of supporting the life of small group participation to the point that nothing is allowed to interfere with it.
  5. Church is organized with systems to mobilize community that is equipped to live for the sake of the world. With this motivation the focus lies on equipping people to live in community so that they can impact the world around them.
What is the driving motivation behind your small group system?

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