Small Groups Simply Don’t Work

Small groups are not a program, a growth strategy, or an alternative to Sunday School

You are absolutely right. They do not work if you are talking about small groups as a program of the church, a way to grow your church, a popular alternative to Sunday school, or one of the many ministry options offered on the local church menu.

Over the past few years, several church leaders have shared with me their disappointment with small groups and uttered their disapproval and skepticism with the increasing popularity of small groups ministry within Christendom. (Is the notion of something popular automatically illegitimate in God's purview?) In a recent coaching conversation with a small groups pastor, he said to me, "The Elders of our church are not convinced that small groups work, and one of them shared her personal experience of dissatisfaction with small groups ministry from a church where she was formerly a small group leader. I don't know what to say. How about you? Are you convinced they work?" To which I replied, "Well, it depends on what it is you're working on, who it is you're working for, and ultimately what you want your work to produce."

Let us say we were to evaluate preaching a sermon on Sundays with the same criteria as we evaluate small groups ministry? Dare we challenge the preaching of the Word of God based upon the obedient response to its message? How about worship? Could we be so bold as to proclaim that because only 45% of our congregation participates during a corporate worship service that it does not work? How about evangelism? Could we say that based upon the efforts of our church to share the redemptive message of God's love for humankind over the past year we have seen our church multiplying in quantifiable terms? Why is it then that, for some people, small groups ministry is so easily ...

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