If a church IS small groups then it is not built around the assembly of ALL its members but the clustering of believers to become "Basic Christian Communities" which do the work of ministry from small groups that meet in homes. These small groups then cluster for area Congregation activities, and assemble regionally for "Celebration" times. While it has weekly worship events, the focus of the church is in the small groups.
In a church IS small groups, all of the tasks of the church (evangelism, discipleship, training, ministry, and education) find their unifying point in small group life. This simplifies the operation of a church to the point that senior leadership can not only lead out in the formation of small groups but can actively participate in small group life. For instance, the apostle Paul was never so busy that he could not be involved in the basic task of the church, which was primarily meeting from house to house in the first century. A church IS small groups is built on the fact that all Christians are ministers according to Ephesians 4. God has provided "Gifted Men" to equip "Believers Who Are Gifted" to do the work of ministry.
Clearing Up Some Terminology
Typically an example of a church IS small groups is a CELL church. While the term CELL GROUP is finding wider acceptance among many small group discipleship models, CELL churches in general are distinct in their small group discipleship structure. The distinction is mostly a matter of rigidity and perhaps lies in the degree to which shepherds and coaches are, in fact, working with group leaders and group members. Since ministry occurs in small groups, the group leader functions in many ways as the pastor for that small group. Training, accountability, and prayer ...