An interesting phenomenon is happening in many American churches today. As churches develop a small groups ministry, they often begin to feel an identity crisis. This is exasperated by all of the church models, discipleship models, shepherding models, and small group models that are available to churches.
Diagnosis 1: Splintering
We live in an age when we can travel to successful churches, go to their conferences, read their books, and check out their web sites. Some churches pick up a little from here, a little from there; the youth guy loves one church's philosophy, the small groups minister uses another church's model, while the children's director uses a third church's ideas. This creates lots of overlap issues and a church where ministries are unaligned and not working as effectively and productively as they should.
Diagnosis 2: Incompatible Models
Numerous models are used by healthy, growing churches, but these models do not necessarily work in tandem with one another. The following models all utilize small groups, but in each, groups play different roles.
In Purpose-Driven churches (e.g. Saddleback), ministries are aligned under the purposes of the church. (These are often churches with small groups.)
In Program-Based churches (e.g. Southeast Christian), ministries are aligned under certain programs (i.e. men, women, singles, couples, young adult, etc.). (These are also often churches with small groups.)
In Community-Driven Churches (e.g. Meta Churches such as Willow Creek or Environment Churches such as North Point), ministries are aligned under community-driven events or environments. Usually, these churches organize primarily around span of care. (These are generally considered churches of small groups.)
In Relational-Based ...