I (we) haven’t got this sorted. It’s a mixed bag. We have some. They’re great. But we don’t have enough. Not by a long way. We have one monthly and one weekly going well and another on life-support. We should have at least three if not four times that number.
Here are a few links with numbers in them.
- 3 Critical Elements Every Small Group Must Strive For
- Four reasons to serve food at your groups and meetings
- Five Essential Elements of Transformational Small Groups
That’s all well and good and I agree with all of those things but if you don’t actually have any groups then it can be a little tricky to be transformational or even serve food (here’s a good outline of how a small group with a strong community focus could look like)
For me small groups are a non-negotiable. They go into the weekly calendar, just like Sunday worship and everything else shifts around that. But not everyone thinks like that and in a busy city I get that. But somewhere along the line we need to figure out how to overcome the obstacles we face. Obstacles in starting small groups in the first place and getting people to go to them in the second place.
Life has its challenges of course. Young families all with different bedtime routines, lack of childcare, several jobs, lack of homes to meet in and long commutes are all genuine obstacles. However experience tells me that people will overcome all sorts of obstacles if something is important enough. I’m just not sure anyone in our church would say we’ve made small groups (for discipleship, community & mission – see link 1 above) important enough. Ho hum.
The problem for us as we grow is that our sense of family weakens without small groups, our ability to identify gifts and leaders weakens, our ability to reach into different communities weakens, and as a Sunday-centric culture replaces a throughout the week one.
Thankfully Ed Stetzer has ridden to the rescue with this post: How to Convince People to Get Involved in Small Groups. The internet can be a wonderful thing sometime. He offers a three-step solution to this problem.
- Teach it biblically
- Promote it incessantly
- Lead people organizationally
This helped me reflect that I (we) are guilty on all three fronts. We’ve not presented enough teaching, we’ve given up talking about it or do so only sporadically and we’ve not marshalled our resources effectively behind following this up with people.
So, now I know what to do. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.