Lots of churches have small groups. But if truth be known, they’re usually more of an add-on than a church-wide priority. To tell if small groups are an integral part of a church’s ministry, there is at least one simple measurement: the percentage of adults in Sunday morning worship who attend a small group. At FBC, that percentage is less than 20%.
Critical mass is the all-important stage at which the full power and benefits of a small group ministry begin to impact the ethos, DNA, and spiritual health of nearly everything and everyone. We’re not there yet. Getting there usually requires that somewhere between 40 to 60 percent of the average weekend adult attendance be involved in a small group. If fewer people participate, small groups will still have a profound effect, but it will be primarily on the individuals in them, not on the entire church. They’ll still have great value in the lives of those involved. But their impact will never equal the revolutionary results that occur when small groups reach the level of a core ministry, or better yet the hub around which a ministry revolves. All that matters is that a significant percentage of the congregation begins to meet in small gatherings outside the church building to share life and study the Bible together.
There is a myth that pastors and clergy somehow have a more direct line to God. It cripples a church because it overburdens pastors and underutilizes the gifts and anointing of everyone else. It mistakenly equates leadership gifts with superior spirituality; it flies in the face of our stated belief in the priesthood of the believer.
Small groups undercut this “Holy Man” myth because they typically meet in widely dispersed settings. This makes it impossible for the pastor (or any other staff member) to carry out all the pastoral roles and functions. They simply can’t be everywhere at once. As a result, small group leaders inevitably step up and assume roles of spiritual leadership that they would have otherwise deferred to the pastoral staff. That not only changes the way small group leaders view themselves; it changes the congregation’s outlook as well.
70% of Americans (acc. To Gallup) say that church is not meeting their needs. When asked, what’s missing, they say:
- Meaning and purpose in life
- Community and deeper relationships
- Being appreciated and respected
- Listened to and heard
- Growing in faith
- Practical help
These needs are best met in a nurturing small group!
In the early church they met in homes regularly for: Worship, Prayer, Bible study and Fellowship. These activities are akin to the Purposes of the church, as found in the Great Commandment: Love the Lord with all your heart (worship), and love your neighbor as yourself (ministry to all kinds of needs), and the Great Commission: go and make disciples (evangelism), baptizing them (fellowship of the body), teaching them to obey (discipleship). This is the essence of small groups.