A Church WITH Small Groups

Through small groups and other mid-size ministries, everyone can experience more in-depth community.

I have directed the small group ministry in a church WITH small groups that later began a transition to a church OF small groups. And most recently, I am involved at a church that probably more closely resembles the church IS small groups. After experiencing all these models, I have concluded that God can and does use all these paradigms.

Recently, I attended a small group leader training workshop hosted by a church of 12,000 people. I was struck by the fact that even with a congregation of this size, small groups were playing a relatively small role in their disciple making structure. Clearly, this was a church WITH small groups, however, it was also a church WITH 72 other ministries each that involved medium-size groups of people. Discipleship and the scriptural "one anothers" were happening through small groups and also, to some extent, through medium size task-based ministries. Through this strategy this church was able to avoid the most common pitfall of the disciple making process at a church WITH small groups. That pitfall is to define church by what happens during the Sunday morning event. What made this church's discipleship structure work was that small groups and other ministries were not thought of as add-ons in addition to 'going to church'. Rather, church was defined not just by preaching/worship at a weekend event, but by 24/7 involvement with ministry and with people. A key question is: How does that value get established at a church WITH small groups?

Thinking about my experience at a church WITH small groups, one key is to develop a strategy and communicate it often with our leadership. We expected the Sunday morning event to be the place where the unchurched would show up most often either through advertising ...

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