The Do’s and Don’ts of Small Groups: Don’t base your small group on spiritual information, but rather transformation.
DON’T: Base a small group solely on a teaching topic or resource. When I was in High School, I got in trouble more often in boring lectures than I did with more interactive environments. The topic was irrelevant: if the teacher kept our attention and included us in the discussion, I performed well. If the teacher just talked and lurked between their desk and the chalkboard, I didn’t always show up. Yes, some will argue that a good student would have gone to class anyways and all that. The reality is that I didn’t. Don’t create a small group that feels like a less engaging version of your church service. If you base everything on teaching, you don’t get the relationships and you will build a culture where people think about topics and talk about what should be done. Don’t build your small groups around a DVD series or a book study. That’s an elective, not a community of Disciple-Makers.
DO: Invest heavily on relationships and build a culture of purpose. The best small groups are interactive and built on a greater purpose than a teaching topic. We get that purpose from Jesus who commanded His followers to “Make disciples” everywhere. The majority of positive feedback I get from leaders has more to do with relationships and serving than it does lesson plans and lectures. Like that young married group that punted their scheduled topic to listen to and pray with someone who announced they had separated from their spouse. Like that singles group who embraced a young homeless guy, included him in everything and took him everywhere, and saw him become a follower of Jesus and change his entire lifestyle. And that “older” group that cancelled a percentage of their regular Bible study to serve at a homeless shelter together. Each of these groups saw new groups created within that year.
Not convinced? Look at churches that are focused on what happens outside the church walls opposed to those focused mostly on Sunday morning. Churches with an outward focus are channeling their energy on making disciples that will make disciples in their neighborhoods, make disciples in their families, make disciples at work, and make disciples wherever else they find themselves. Churches with an inward focus spend their energy trying to get people on the church campus. Get them here so they can hear the teaching. Get them here so they can see our guest speaker. Get them here so they can hear our music. Get them here so they can see our building. Just get them here.
What about you? What are your best stories from your experience in a small groups of believers? Are they about a topic or video, or about seeing something greater than that?
“The Great Commission” (also known as Disciple-Making) is the command Jesus laid out for His followers. We are to “Make Disciples” of all nations. We are to “Make Disciples” of all people, everywhere. He didn’t create two distinct categories of “Evangelism” and “Discipleship” that we see today (my guess is that was invented so someone could sell two books instead of one).
Just like Jesus, Christians for centuries have utilized small groups of believers as a practical way to provide support, encouragement, growth, and fellowship with one another as we make disciples together. Small groups in a contemporary church environment are just as effective in “Disciple-Making” today, but simply putting people in a group and having a staff member tell them what to do doesn’t make disciples. I believe that an effective small groups ministry is one that consistently makes disciples, engages the culture they find themselves in, and loves people. So this week, I give you five days of “The Do’s and Don’ts of Small Groups.”