In 1992 I wrote a manual that guided the specifics of our small group ministry, including our programmed vacations. This is what I wrote in 1992:
We observe several 'breaks' during the year:
- One month break from the 1st week of December to the 1st week of January
- Two week break during the Easter season
- Two month break during the summer time
I figured this strategy would ease the leadership load and encourage the leaders not to give up. However, I noticed two problems.
- Some groups wanted to meet throughout the year. Like a close-knit family, they enjoyed being with each other. They felt it was unnatural for me to set a decree concerning when they should start and stop their group meetings.
- It was hard to get the groups back together after the scheduled break (especially the two-month break). Since I programmed the break into the schedule, it was covertly assumed that I was responsible to bring the groups back together.
Gleanings from Small Group Based Churches
Between 1995-1997, I had the opportunity to visit and study small group based churches around the world. I discovered that these churches didn't advocate programmatic breaks (vacations) for the small groups during the year.
These churches asked their small groups to meet throughout the year (while allowing for individual groups to decide not to meet on specific holidays, etc.)
I noticed that these churches prioritized the small group on the same level as the Sunday celebration. Since the weekly worship service met throughout the year, the small group ministry must do the same. These churches were concerned about the spiritual growth of the members and felt it would be irresponsible pastoral care to close down cell ministry for an entire summer, for example.
If small groups are ...