"We are committed to becoming a church of small groups."
"Life-change happens best in small groups."
"Everyone needs authentic community."
These statements, and others like them, are heard often in churches around the country. Small groups have become a big deal. Churches desiring to help members connect relationally and to grow in discipleship have turned to the small group (5 to15 people meeting regularly in a home) paradigm. They have hired small group directors, highlighted groups in sermons, and promoted groups in their ministry strategy.
In spite of all this effort, the stark reality is that more of America's church members stay away from home groups than attend them. Joseph Meyers writes that in the vast majority of churches, no more than 35 percent of the congregation participates in a home-based small group. If small groups are where community and life-change happen best, that is an alarming statistic!
Small group ministry sounds good. It seems like it should work. After all, true community is a basic human need, and it is not hard to make the case that small groups are a biblical concept. So why don't more people respond?
Small groups can and do work for some people. That is why church leaders can find enough anecdotal evidence of community and life-change to keep the dream alive. A few churches are experiencing widespread participation, but that does not change the fact that most church members are not seeking "true community" and life-change in home groups.
Hitting on all five
The main reason most small group ministry is not fulfilling expectations is that the group experience is not holistic enough to attract and retain a high percentage of people. To be most effective, small groups need to fulfill all of the church's ...