Beliefs are the driver of everything we do. The first belief needed to have a growing small group ministry is that small groups are not an option.
More than ever, if you want to
- Care for
- Release people to do their unique ministries
You MUST believe that small groups are not an option, they must be a core conviction based on Scripture.
Most pastors and church leaders today at least give mental assent to that belief. Many say, “Sure, we need small groups”, but when you compare the amount of energy and resources allocated, in most cases it is actually pretty small. Or, churches try small groups, can’t make them work and then give up on them.
Getting small groups started and then keeping them going can be a challenge, but a very doable one.
All around the world, including the United States, small group driven churches are seeing powerful spiritual and numerical growth.
They can work and they can work really well, but you have to believe they are essential and not some extra. The weekend service will only take you so far if you want to grow a healthy and growing church. You really do have to get smaller to get larger.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe weekend services are great and play a major role in kingdom ministry. But one of the reasons so many churches are stagnant is because small groups are not being prioritized nearly enough. Because they require an extra step on the commitment journey, most people will only join in weekend services if small groups are not emphasized continually.
Small Groups Can Be a Fantastic Growth Stimulator
I will never forget hearing the pastor of the largest church in the world (Seoul, Korea) say, “We don’t pray for revival because the Holy Spirit is already here. To grow 20-30% each year I simply ask each of our small groups to win 2-3 people to Christ over the next twelve months.” Before you say, “my church could never do that”, this church did this and more for 3 decades straight. For over thirty years they saw over 20-30% growth each year by emphasizing small groups. And they are not the only ones.
This kind of growth is happening on every continent. Every single one of them places small groups as a main factor in producing this kind of impact. It is increasingly happening in the United States as well with both underground movements and mega-churches seeing remarkable small group prioritized growth. And it’s not just quantity; it is also quality.
Small Groups are Absolutely Essential for Discipleship
We all know the mission is to go everywhere and make devoted followers of Jesus.
And we also know that you cannot make growing disciples just through weekend services and classes.
It takes interaction in a smaller group with a leader who can help people on their journey.
If small groups are done well, then a church can continue to grow in size and still have every single person discipled in a natural, personal, individual way.
There is an Initial Investment Before Results Are Seen
One of the big reasons many churches bail or give lip-service to small groups is because it takes a re-prioritization of how ministry is done and it requires another level of commitment for both pastors and church leaders.
For a season it might be a little more work (but not necessarily) to get the vision, training, and systems in place to get the ever-expanding network of small groups going.
If you do them right, a pastor actually spends less time doing secondary work and more time doing what he/she is actually called to do. The people in the church will be better cared for, grow more, find greater fulfillment, and reach more people than you have ever seen before. It won’t even be close.
Small group “systems” or structure is very simple. It should be so doable that 99% of the people can lead one. You just need to know how to pick the key essentials and then make it replicable. When you do that it is amazing what begins to happen.
This is How Jesus Did It
Remember, when Jesus implemented His strategy to change the world He emphasized small groups. He spent the majority of His time with the 12 because He knew it would all rise or fall with them. The early church followed suit, meeting both in the temple and from house to house. Paul’s churches met mostly in homes and we all know the growth of the early church was dramatic despite opposition and persecution.
God exists in a small group; we are created in His image. The entire world runs on small groups. Whether it’s a government, army, company, or school they all function, not in groups of thousands, but in groups of 3-10. All of them!
This is how Jesus intends His church to function as well. You just need to believe it, commit to it, and then prioritize it in your church and ministry. Small groups are not an option.