Small group ministry is a must for a healthy church. We need the fellowship, the accountability and so much more.
But what if you can't get small groups going strong in your small church, no matter how hard you try? Maybe you should stop trying. For a while, anyway.
I struggled for decades to do small groups in our church, with no success. We tried every small group method we could find. Sometimes they'd start strong, but they'd fade in a matter of months – a year at most.
So I gave them up.
For several years our church quit trying to do small group ministry. And it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
No more wasted energy, no more failed attempts and no more frustration trying to do something that wasn’t right for our church. Instead, we concentrated on ministries we could do well, until we were ready to try small groups again.
This is one area of ministry where what works for small churches is very different than what works for big churches.
Here are 4 signs your church may not need a small group ministry right now:
1. Your Small Church Is a Small Group
Big churches need small groups because of their size. The most personal, intimate aspects of our spiritual lives can’t thrive if we only have large meetings.
But many small churches don't need small groups. They already are one. They just need to promote the intimacy of the small church experience.
2. If It Feels Divisive, It Is
When I arrived at my current church, the small, discouraged congregation was splintered into factions. Five pastorates in one decade will do that.
That divisiveness was evident on Sunday morning, when they set up too many chairs, arranged in four sections with massive aisles. The seating divided the 20-30 worshippers from each other.
On my second Sunday, I set up the half the chairs in three sections, featuring a center section where I encouraged everyone to gather. That started a healing process in the church.
They no longer felt separated because they no longer were separated.
Sometimes when we push people into small groups in a small church, we run the risk of doing what my church’s old seating arrangement did. Separating people who need to be gathered together.
3. You’re Only Doing It Because You've Been Told To
Ask yourself this question. If an expert hadn’t told you your church needs a small group ministry, would the need have been obvious?