The High Control Model

The High Control Model

Could high-structured, high-commitment groups be right for your context?
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Cult-Like Following
Because of the required high commitment from both leaders and group members, high-structure systems often breed a dogmatism and arrogance that it's not a way but the way to do groups. This goes for the system as a whole and specific leaders within the ministry. And, like cults, such systems can begin following a particular leader—or ministry founder—who can mislead or abuse. Unlike other group structures, members can be more susceptible to being take advantage of. The trust in leadership can be too high.

Difficult in Large Churches
Years ago, a pastor friend of mine told me about a small-group conference he had just returned from. He was pumped up and ready to implement all he'd learned. I knew his very large church well and bluntly told him his dream wasn't going to materialize. He'd fallen in love with a high-structure system but served a low-structure church. I'm not a prophet, but I was right that time. Most large churches won't be able to implement Cell, G-12, or any other high-structure, high-expectation models.

Other Weaknesses

  • Because so much is required of leaders, they can easily burn out.
  • Churches may spend years investing in and training leaders only to have them leave small-group leadership or the church.
  • Potentially great leaders may be looked over if they don't look like current leaders.
  • Creating confident leaders may produce arrogant leaders.

—Bill Search is author of Simple Small Groups and the Senior Pastor at Rolling Hills Christian church in El Dorado Hills, California; copyright 2014 by Christianity Today.

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