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 ...