Skip content to go to the blog's navigation

« Video of the Week: The Holy Spirit and Relationships | Main | Making Your Small Group Sustainable for the Future »

March 15, 2010

Four Things a Church (Small Group) Must Do

The Basic Human Longings


I have been thinking about my own small group currently gathering on Wednesday evenings in our home. As I think about the core people in our group now, and the people we are trying to reach out to as well, I wonder: What do these folks really need? How can we best help people in their spiritual journey?

Stephen Ministries in St. Louis, has done a good bit of research into this question. Based on surveys and conversations with thousands of individuals, both inside and outside the church, four primary longings have been identified that people look to have fulfilled. In the context of churches/small groups, these four needs are:

  • Spirituality -- helping people experience Jesus and His saving power in their lives
  • Community -- helping people experience Jesus in one other, giving them the sense that they are connected to a “body,” a loving community, as well as to the Creator and Sustainer of all things
  • Care -- helping people experience Jesus in their pain and suffering. When many people are most clearly in need of the gospel and most open to God’s presence and the healing, saving power of Jesus
  • Service -- helping people experience meaning, purpose, and significance by participating in Jesus’ mission in the world and being involved in something that is not only bigger than themselves, but also life-transforming and enduring

These longings make sense Biblically, as well. How well a congregation or small group meets these four longings can be a significant indicator of its overall health and ability to be in mission with Jesus.

posted by Dan Lentz on March 15, 2010 12:55 PM

Related Tags: community, Dan Lentz, purpose


I like this list. It's a great way to encapsulate and simplify what is often a very tricky balance to maintain, in a way that is easy to understand.

Hi, Dan. I am writing a magazine article on small groups and the Daniel Fast, and I'd like to include the information you provided about the research done by Stephen Ministries. Can you provide the source? I looked on their website but didn't see anything right away. Please just email me at Thanks so much!

Our church has been doing home groups for 5 or 6 years and have been changing people from group to to group every year. I feel the group should stay together for a long period of time. What is your opinion?

I CANNOT STAND [attending] small groups! I thought we would be more spiritual--do a Bible study or something, especially since our church does not offer a lot of Sunday school options. But instead, it seems ALL we do is EAT OUT!! Now we have a new leader and her last email just annoyed the heck out of me. "We MUST get together and hang out at least once a month." I am sorry, but I don't like to be forced to hang out with people and it seems that all we do is eat and waste time. I do not feel this is helping any of us grow spiritually. I married into this group. My husband thinks all the people all wonderful. They are nice, but I am just being fed. Not spiritually fed

This is balanced, yet incomplete list. One of the purposes of a small group is to be a training ground to develop future leaders. This is something I'm very passionate about because I believe Jesus is passionate about it as well!

This is a great list as far as what peoples' felt needs are. As far as what a small group must do, I do believe a small group must also develop new leaders and new groups.

Post a comment:

Verification (needed to reduce spam):