Small Groups as Programs are Failures Because They Have the Wrong Purpose

GetConnected1Small groups in the context of the church have one clear, abiding purpose: to connect people in acts of service. That’s it. People get connected for social reasons in a thousand different places: at Starbucks, Little League, Boy Scouts, quilting class, dancing studios, painting class at the Y. Small groups in the spiritual context help connect people in acts of service.

So a small group that gathers together only to have coffee and doughnuts and meet for a specific period of time, even if it’s to increase the content of their knowledge of Christianity really misses the whole point. Study groups are one thing. Small groups are another. Small groups gather to connect together in order to promote acts of service in order to find connectedness with other people who are interested in serving God. They are interested in doing the four great to-do‘s, knowing God, loving God, loving what He loves, and doing what He’s blessing. The key here in small groups is on number four.

We gather in serving teams to do what God is blessing. In order to advance the church of Jesus Christ in this brave new world, we come together, those of us who are followers, to connect to others who are followers and even seekers, in acts of service. It’s what gives our small-group time mission, message, mandate, energy, and focus. Anything else creates an obligation time to fulfill. We get together just to get together because we said we’d get together.

Small groups that are organized around serving teams – parking cars, opening doors, teaching kids, teaching students, ushering, setting up, taking down as in our environment – serve in a thousand different ways in order that this church of Jesus Christ might advance its mission to be good news in a bad news world. Small groups organized around serving tasks then have a social aspect as an overflow, not as a core mission.

Rethink your small groups. What I’ve found is, most of the people in small groups as programs never serve. As a matter of fact they expect to be served. They expect the church to find people for them to connect with. The truth of the matter is, in every church of any size, there are hundreds and hundreds of other people there ready and waiting to get connected in order to be together to do something good.