Missionally-focused vs. Need-based

People are not inspired to get involved when small groups are promoted as something that fills a personal need.

Most life-saving inoculations occur at the very beginning of a person's life. The same is true of small group ministries. The way we promote small groups influences what people will expect from them and, ultimately, how they will engage with others once they are in them. By changing the way small groups are promoted, church leaders can preempt one of the biggest problems in small group life: A consumeristic attitude toward small groups (and the Church!). In other words, modify the tone of 'encouragements for people to get involved' from catering to personal needs to calling people to mission and serving the needs of others.

Small groups offer the right solution, but we need to be sure we are applying them to real needs. Medicine can actually be harmful when there is a misdiagnosis. For example, there is no lack of well-intentioned promises from shepherds encouraging their sheep to connect with one another: "Get connected!" "Find a place to belong!" "Discover community!" "Build Friendships!" "Feel more a part of the family!" Here is the problem with these slogans: They all presume people have a felt-need for morerelationship. Most people do not. Furthermore, such tag lines imply things that people may not necessarily experience.

Most people's lives are already full of activities in addition to other relationships they are managing. In fact, encouraging people to develop more relationships with people they do not really know (or know if they want to know) can actually repel people from the community. The truth is…many people really do not NEED to connect with others at their church in the ways that we think they do. It could be very draining to attempt to do so. Time is the chief factor, among many others, that allows ...

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