It seems like small groups are popping up everywhere. And churches that have a recognized small group ministry are becoming more the standard than the exception. Why is that? What's going on?
As director of smallgroups.com, I have a lot of contact with churches that are neck deep in the small group movement. My job revolves around helping pastors and small group leaders keep their small groups active and healthy. So I get a lot of feedback about what's driving the rise of small group ministry.
There are definitely many dynamics involved in the small group movement, but I've noticed a common thread. And that is the strong desire people have to experience genuine community. People are seeing the need for a kind of community that's really missing in our information age culture. There are a lot of broken lives and a lot of dysfunction in traditional relationships and the family so the whole idea of bringing a New Testament community back into the church is something people see and feel they need.
I witnessed this phenomenon first hand in my own church. As the church grew to a point where it was impossible to know everyone, people began to feel disconnected. That's when someone suggested we give small groups a try. Many responded with great enthusiasm. It wasn't difficult to get people involved, but after a while, the "honeymoon phase" wore off. Once the congregation got into community with each other, they began to realize, "I liked you better when I didn't know you as well." But just as in marriage, many soon realized they needed to be committed to the building of community whether they always liked it or not.
The interesting thing that happened through it all was that ...