Building (or Rebuilding) a Healthy small-group ministry

Seven questions that will lead to effective small groups.

John 15:1-17; Acts 2:42

1. What is the vision for small groups at our church? This question is fundamental. Answering it requires asking two more questions. First, what is our overall vision for what small groups can and will do in our church? (And, What is our biblical basis?) Second, what kinds of people in our church can and must be reached by the small group ministry?

2. What kinds of groups will we utilize?

3. How will we "fill" these groups with people? People will go to the kind of group that best meets (and continues to meet) their needs. Consider how to recruit the people whose needs these groups will meet.

4. Who will lead these groups? Will we have a program of "apprenticing," where leaders-in-training get hands-on training? How will we discover and begin nurturing leaders?

5. How will we insure the growth of this ministry? What goals do we have for six months? How will we deal with a group once it has 12 members (or, how can we help groups to effect positive group splits)? How will we continue to recruit members and leaders for this ministry?

6. What kind of accountability will we require of leaders? What kind of ongoing training will we provide our leaders? What kinds of reporting will we require, and how often? What about periodic meetings? Who will oversee the ministry in general?

7. How can we communicate our unique ministry desires with potential leaders and members? Many churches with dynamic small group ministries will sit down with their answers to the above questions and "codify" them into a small group manual or a philosophy statement.

Adapted from The Big Book on Small Groups. ©2004 by Jeffrey Arnold. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426.


1. Which of the above questions have we answered? Which do we still need to answer—or to revisit?

2. Which is the most important question for our church right now?

3. How would you suggest we work on that question?


Commit to follow Jesus' command in John 15:12, and thank Jesus that he has made us his friends (v. 14).

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