Small Groups—Dead or Alive

To realize that your group is dead, you must first know what it looks like to be alive.

There is something terribly wrong in many of today's small groups. Part of the problem is that they are dead. But, believe it or not, that's not the biggest problem. Many of these groups died some time ago, but no one realized it. There was never a funeral. No mourning. No burial. The people involved just kept meeting as if the group was still alive, but all that existed, in reality, was a cold, stiff corpse. Many groups go for years in this kind of lack of awareness or denial.

To understand what a dead group looks like, you have to first know the vital signs of an alive group. An alive group is growing. People are being transformed and the number of people in the group is expanding. An alive group is moving. It doesn't just meet or congregate; it is actively involved in something outside itself. An alive group has a heartbeat. It has a mission and purpose. It exists to do something other than just feed itself. An alive group is maturing. It's not just getting older, it's developing into what it was created to become.

In talking to small group leaders and pastors all over the world and from my own observation, many groups do not exhibit much life! They meet once a week or so and do Bible study and perhaps pray for one another's requests. Maybe they have a potluck or go bowling together once a month or so. There may be a love and caring concern between members, but these things alone do not bring life — they are not the vital signs of an alive group.

I'm describing a small group like a human body as Paul did in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. In an alive body, each part is working. In an alive group, each person is growing, moving and maturing. As I look at people in churches, even those in small groups, I notice that ...

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.


9 Ways to Help Group Members Take Ownership of Problems
The struggle is real—and we have to own it if we want to change.
How Is the Bible Changing You?
Assess how you've grown after completing a Bible study.
New Life
Easter reminds us that God offers us new life.
The Four-Step Discussion Method that Works for Any Study
This simple small-group format teaches disciples to obey God.
Four Keys to Transformational Discussions
Create an environment for life change with these simple tips.
Hungry for Transformation
Ruth Barton shares what it takes to experience life change in small groups.