New Entry Doors

Small groups can serve as a powerful entrance into Christian community.

I have heard the term "doors" used repeatedly as a metaphor in recent years to describe church outreach. There are "front doors" that we try to get new people to enter. There are "back doors" where visitors and fringe people seem to escape from our congregations never to be seen again. There are even "side doors" that some churches create, intentionally or unintentionally, as pathways for people to come and go. There is lots of thought put into how to make "entry doors" open wider to new people and how to close off "exit doors" where people slip out of church life.

All the discussion and analysis of these symbolic doors is important because reaching people for Christ is one of the most vital things we do as Christ-followers. However, I have noticed most of the "door" metaphors refer to attendance at centralized church events such as weekend worship services. I wondered, what about a small group as an "entry door" to church life? did an informal survey of small group leaders and found that three-quarters of those leaders surveyed said that they had members of their small group that did not attend their church's weekend worship service. That statistic got my attention. I decided to probe a little deeper with a focus group of small group leaders from a broad cross-section of small group and church philosophies.

Here is what I discovered. The average small group size in my sample of small group leaders surveyed was approximately 10 (9.8) people. In those same groups, on average, each group had 1.2 regular group attenders who did not attend their church's weekend worship service. Additionally, on average, each group had 1 (0.93) person who attended their small group "occasionally" but who did not attend their church's ...

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