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July 14, 2010

Question: Small Groups and Smaller Churches

Can you have both?



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I've been doing a good bit of research for the next training download that I'm putting together: "Launching Small Groups in a Smaller Church." But I keep running across a set of ideas that are slightly confusing to me, and I would love to hear some outside opinions.

Basically, several articles and book excerpts I have read regarding small groups in a smaller church seem to imply that you can't have small groups in a smaller church. The argument is usually stated this way: if you are able to successfully run a small-groups ministry inside of a smaller church, the church will grow and grow until it can no longer be considered small.

That's not such a bad idea to express, I guess. I'd like to think that a successful small-groups ministry would in fact help any church grow.

But those statements seem to have a more sinister undertone. Namely, that if you are currently part of a smaller church, then you cannot have a healthy small-group ministry. Even more, these lines of thinking seem to imply that smaller churches are a problem in and of themselves—that a small church is automatically an unhealthy church.

What do you think? Are those statements true? Am I right to be confused? And what can we say about the intersection between small groups and smaller churches?

posted by Sam O'Neal on July 14, 2010 3:17 PM

Related Tags: Smaller churches

Comments

I don't think it's deeming small churches to be bad. I just think that it is saying that if you have a small church, and then launch a successful small-group ministry (or really any successful ministry), then you're going to outgrow the "small" church label unless you divide the church for some reason.

I thought the whole point of discipling was to grow God's people to maturity while growing God's kingdom by adding new believers. Is the small church more concerned with growth or maintaining the status quo?

The church by its very nature is a living entity. Small or large it should be growing. When something stops growing it begins to die. Small groups are great because it affords an avenue for those in the church who have matured to share and deciple others in the body.

I have also heard these things said and coming from a small church (300 people) I would have to say that cell groups or whatever the church calls them, are an awesome way to go! Not only are they more personal but you can get to meet the people that you don't get to c on a regular basis

I have also heard these things said and coming from a small church (300 people) I would have to say that cell groups or whatever the church calls them, are an awesome way to go! Not only are they more personal but you can get to meet the people that you don't get to c on a regular basis

I'm in a small church (under 100 members) and is part of the small group ministry which we call MCG (Missional Community Groups). It was difficult in launching and making the small group ministry work. Essentially it came down to us, the leadership, realizing that we need to focus on one or two things that we are really good at so that we can do them well. This means that we can't have 10 different all-church events a year. This means that some resources from other ministries will need to be diverted to small groups. This includes people as well. You can't expect people to serve in 2 other ministries and go to small groups. Basically, in order to make small group work in a small church with limited resources, you have to make some major sacrifices.

I think that the main reason why small groups will help make the church grow quantitatively and qualitatively is because it is the most direct and visible investment in the individual's life. When people see that their lives are being ministered to directly, they will respond in attendance and service.

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