While serving conventional churches, many have experienced difficulty in getting small groups up and running. It might make you wonder what makes it so difficult to get them started. Here are a couple of thoughts, as well as a few suggestions, for getting them started.
- Status Quo. Many in church like the status quo, and they do not care for changes. Getting involved in a small group involves changing patterns.
- Time. Many in church "give" their one hour (or however long) to the church and are not willing to invest more.
- Value. Many in church have "been there; done that; got the t-shirt; don't need to do it again." They did not get much out of a small group then, and they figure they will not get much out of it this time either.
- Intimacy. Many in church either fear intimacy, are uncomfortable with it, and/or do not want to be held accountable. As Bill Easum wrote in the forward to House Church Manual, in a small group "…it is next to impossible to be fake about your faith or lack of it."
- Credibility. Many pastors, in a flurry of excitement after they have returned from a Group Magazine or Serendipity House small group seminar, launch a new group program using leaders who have little or no credibility as disciples of Jesus, and everybody in the community knows it. If attending a small group is supposed to deepen someone's spiritual life, then the leader had better be a credible spiritual example.
With that said, here are a couple of suggestions I would offer for launching effective, multiplying small groups.
- Begin with You. One of the number one complaints I hear from pastors is that they cannot get their congregations to do evangelism (or inviting people to church, etc.). They confess that they preach about it, teach about it, and even send people to workshops on evangelism to no avail. The problem, however, in most of the cases I have noted, is that the congregations are doing exactly what the pastor is actually teaching by example. Most of these pastors keep expecting their flocks to do what they themselves are not doing. Until it is important enough for the pastor to do, and to do well and often, it is not likely to be important enough for anyone else to do either. If you want an effective, multiplying small group, the best thing to do is for the pastor to start one.