I’ve recently been in touch with small group coordinators from three growing, vibrant churches. These churches are to be commended for designing relevant ministries which God is using to bring new believers into the Kingdom. These churches also need to be commended because they realized their small group ministries were somehow missing the mark. It’s not that they didn’t have them, (many of them) but they had become in-house “huddle and cuddle” groups with little transformational value. They had become places to learn a little bit, enjoy one-another’s company and say a quick prayer, but that’s about it.
These churches began asking some important questions like these:
- Are people becoming more like Jesus as a result of our groups?
- Are our groups helping to develop missional people?
- How are our groups making a difference in their members’ neighborhoods?
- What do we want our small group ministry to look like in 2 years?
- What are the obstacles in getting there?
- Are our newest members a part of groups?
- Is it time to dismantle what has been and start from scratch?
- Do our small groups reflect the vision of the church?
These three churches were lead to re-design their small group ministries in very different ways. One has over 100 people trying out sermon based small groups, “Sticky Church” style. Another has pulled all parts of group life---Men’s Ministry, Beth Moore, Coffee Break, Support Groups and Life Groups—under one umbrella where all are offered on a “semester” bases. The other has decided they are a very relational church that doesn’t do well at hosting large outreach events, so it makes sense that their mission be carried out through small groups. Each small group will discern together how God can best use them to serve in their community.
At least twice a year, those who lead small group ministries need to ask, “What are the next steps for this small group ministry? Where is God leading us?” If you don’t, chances are you’ll become stuck and ineffective.