The 101 version of small groups is run by the church. A local church promotes participant interest, recruits leaders, distributes curriculum, and schedules the meeting time for each small group. One church will loosen the reigns from this while another tightens, but the general rule is that Church Groups are run by the church.
Pluses for this model revolve around harmony and ease. Some neat learning opportunities exist when small group discussions overlap Sunday preaching. Harmony also exists here in that small groups are a great outlet for building on social connections formed on Sunday mornings or special events. It’s an easy system in that joining is as quick checking the box “sign me up.” It easy on the leaders as well in that people, schedules, and curriculum all get handed to them.
Downsides to Church Groups is dependency, discouragement, and force-fits. Some leaders become dependent on staff, becoming more of a “middleman” than a leader. Other leaders become discouraged, wanting to achieve bigger goals and set bigger plans than what is being handed them. Participants also become discouraged at times when trying to relate intimately with a group of relative strangers.
Church Groups only become as big as their staff leader and local church. The scope of small groups would broaden quickly if structured to become as big as each member and the local community.
- Has leading or participating in a Church Group discouraged you?
- Does the practical ease of Church Groups compensate for the limitations they create?
- What could Church Groups do to make their scope broader?