Training Small Groups to Reach Out

An interview with small-groups author and pastor Jeff Arnold

Note: This article has been excerpted from the training tool called Small Groups and Evangelism.

Mark 2:13–17

What has been your experience with using small groups as an evangelistic tool?

One of the most significant ways that small groups can contribute to evangelism is in a backdoor way. They get you conversing in an articulate way about your faith. And when you do that, you tend to be more open to sharing Christ with others. Plus, if you can get somebody who needs Christ into a group that's authentic—where people are talking about life experiences, intersecting with God and each other, and loving each other—then that person is more likely to talk about what Jesus Christ is doing, or what Jesus Christ means.

You've been writing about small groups for a long time. Have any movements or models struck you as being particularly effective in helping churches move their groups toward evangelism?

I think you're talking about the Achilles heel of the small-group movement, there. People are always tinkering with different ways to get groups out of their living rooms and connecting with the broader world. But I'm not aware of a proven method for creating small groups that are primarily focused on evangelism. In fact, I've found that those kinds of groups tend to be a small minority on the landscape, and I can't name very many pastors or leaders who pull that off on a church-wide basis.

So is it better for churches to focus on creating small groups that are healthy—and hope that those groups grow into evangelism—instead of intentionally trying to create "evangelistic small groups"?

I'm not sure that it's necessarily "better," but it's definitely ...

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