Six Reasons American Small-Group Ministries Fail

Most American small-group ministries have not done as well as they have in places like Korea. Why?

Small-group systems in countries like Korea have exploded in evangelistic growth. Most American small-group ministries have not done so well. Why? An article in Ministries Today (May/June 1993) speculates on five reasons.

1. They are methodologically designed to fail. In Korea, the church is built around small groups, says David Yonggi Cho, pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest church in the world, which is built upon cell groups. In America, however, small-group systems are built around the existing, traditional church. The concept of "church" in Korea centers around people, whereas in America it centers on the building. In Korean churches, small groups are central to everything they do. In American churches, small groups are usually just another program tacked onto the other ministries of the church.

2. They lack sufficient ministerial involvement. Cho says ministers must be personally committed to small groups. They must have personal knowledge, personal interest, and personal leadership in the small-group system.

3. They have not discerned the needs of the community. Today's society demands creative ways of reaching hurting people and filling their needs through relationships with others and with Christ. Support groups that help meet special needs will attract non-Christians to the church.

4. They are guided with no vision. Cho says many American churches stay small because they think small. He says "the number one requirement for having real church growth-unlimited church growth-is to set goals."

5. Leaders are selected and trained haphazardly. Cho's leaders must have a heart for small-group ministry and be willing to "contract" at least 10 hours a week for one year. Leadership training is essential to effective, ...

article Preview

This article is currently available to subscribers only. To continue reading:

free newsletter

Sign up for our free Small Groups Newsletter newsletter: Regular access to innovative training resources, Bible-based curriculum, and practical articles.


Eliminate Barriers to Community
Structure your groups for maximum participation.
The Power of Vision
Articulate a clear vision for your ministry and see the amazing results.
What You Can Do to Develop More Women Small-Group Pastors
Despite a plethora of female group leaders, few small-group pastors are women.
The Right Way to Do Small Groups
What I've learned from years of small group consulting
Should Your Small Group Become a Missional Community?
Why The Austin Stone made the switch
Multi-Site Small-Group Ministries Don't Have to Be Chaotic
How one multi-site pioneer structures small-group ministry for success