There are many kinds of small groups found in churches today. Some are formed to support what goes on inside the church building on weekends (parking attendant groups, usher groups, worship team groups, etc.). Other groups that meet off-campus are formed for Bible study, prayer, fellowship, outreach, or discipleship. Each has an opportunity to learn or serve or minister in the local church. Most are encouraged to do far more than their stated purpose, but, in my experience, few really do more than the task they are assigned or the stated purpose of the group. People are over-busy with work, kids, hobbies or recreation, and only motivated to get the assignments done for the commitments they have made to the church. Task and single-focus groups do what they are designed to do, but rarely do they do as much as a pastor would like them to do.
Holistic small groups (HSGs) are different and carry a special definition. In a nutshell, this kind of group seeks to live out the stated mission of a local church in which it is a subset and to minister to the members of the group in as many aspects of their lives as is possible. For the sake of clarity on these two points, let us delve a little deeper into the meaning of each.
Fulfilling the Mission of the Local Church
Instead of supporting or fulfilling just part of a local church's mission, a holistic small group works hard to live out the specific calling God has placed on that local church. For example, here is my home church's mission statement:
"Building a compassionate community that draws people from all cultures and generations into an authentic, intimate, and supernatural life with Jesus Christ."
Because the small groups in my church are challenged to fulfill our mission, we do not ...