When Is a Small Group Just Another Meeting?

And what should you do about it?

I'm going to attempt to paraphrase a story I heard at a small-groups conference a little over a year ago, so please bear with me. The conference was the 2007 Purpose-Driven Small Groups gala at Saddleback Church, and the speaker was Randy Frazee. The story centered on Frazee's first attempt at small-group ministry as the senior pastor of a large church in suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas.

Being the senior pastor, Frazee wanted to make sure that his small group was an example of excellence for the rest of the church to follow. So after much prayer and deliberation, he and his wife invited the most spiritual couple in the church to serve as co-leaders, and then the most athletic, most attractive, most intelligent, and most wealthy couples to round out the group. They called it their "Super Small Group."

The only problem was that the couples' homes were spread out over several miles, which meant that Frazee and his wife had to travel between 25 and 40 minutes each way to get to their group meeting every week. After a while, the added time (and added money spent on childcare) began to take its toll. Still, the Frazees persevered, and the Super Group settled into a regular and comfortable routine.

About this time, however, Frazee's new next-door neighbor—a real whiz at hospitality and socializing—began organizing regular get-togethers within the neighborhood. Soon, the little community was coming together at least once a week to play games, share food, chat, and pretty much experience a suburban version of Acts 2:42 (minus the selling of property, of course). Consequently, Frazee's Super Small Group became less and less appealing in light of what was happening in his own back yard.

He described ...

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