Your small groups ministry may be struggling post-pandemic but don’t give up. If you want healthy church growth, you need small groups. It’s as simple as that. In a small church, the pastor gets to know and care for everyone. As the church grows, it becomes too much for any one person. You need lay leaders who are equipped and empowered to care for people.
This series of blog entries covers the ten essential dynamics that allow a church to grow in ways that are healthy, effective, and multiplying. Last week, I talked about pursuing whole life worship. This week, I am looking at dynamic #5 for healthy church growth—Growing Authentic Small Group Communities.
Growing Authentic Small Group Communities
Growing authentic small group communities: Expanding a network of groups where disciples gather to live life together and provide each other with relational support, opportunities for growth, and the challenge toward mission
People Need to be Known
Small groups provide the spaces where people are known and shepherded. In any church larger than a house church, small group communities in some form are essential to the healthy functioning of the church. Without them, people get lost in the crowd. It’s no accident that Jesus trained his disciples in a small group of twelve. He had to know them, engage with them, live with them in order to help them live a live of discipleship.
Various Forms and Functions of Small Groups
Whether we call them community groups, classes, or missional groups, these smaller spaces where people are known serve many functions. An effective and healthy small group is where people are loved, known, supported, and encouraged. Places of learning and growth where we can see new perspectives and study the scriptures together. Safe places where we can hold one another accountable and challenge one another on toward love and good deeds. They are places where we band together in order to reach out and serve the community around us.
One Key MUST for Small Groups
Note that last element. A healthy small group, far from being inward-focused, must incorporate an outward focus. This is a group of people on mission together. Serving together. Encouraging and reminding one another to reach out to their own network of friends and family with the gospel message. Growing and multiplying to include new people coming into the community of disciples.
In all these ways, small groups live out the reality of Hebrews 10:23-25 as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds as we meet together.
6 Things You Can Do to Assure You Have a Healthy, Growing Small Groups
- Evaluate your current group structure, considering all the one-anothers of scripture
- Create a plan to implement any missing elements into small groups
- Invest in supporting and coaching your group leaders
- Assess your development of apprentice leaders
- Track the multiplication rate of your groups
- Consider the inward focus vs. outward focus of your small groups and make any needed corrections
Listen to the Holy Spirit and take some time to assess how your church is currently doing in this area. After, identify some customized action steps you could take to strengthen this dynamic.
Finding the Flow– Written to help give bring life and order into small groups, this book equips small group leaders with skills that will draw people toward Christ in authentic ways. There is also a downloadable Finding the Flow Small Group Training Kit with everything you need to facilitate discussion and learning with your small group team.
Guide for Discipling– This is the small group study for people who are ready to experience transformation. Start with Experiencing God and learn Spiritual Responsiveness. From there it’s a choose-your-own-adventure that covers 40 topics in 8 areas of discipleship. This small group study has been customized to honor the traditions of several denominations including Episcopal, Lutheran, and The Vineyard.