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Small Groups

3 Small Group Myths

February 11, 2014, 3 Comments

Small groups are an essential part of church life. It goes by a multitude of names – Life Groups, home groups, Sunday School, Bible fellowships, and the list goes on. When a ministry is so important, for some reason, myths begin to swirl around it. Here are three of the myths about small groups.

1. Small groups are just for fellowship. Small groups must be an environment where people grow closer but not just for the sake of friendship. As believers, our fellowship deepens when it is centered on the truth. Fellowship is one of the functions of the church but it is not the ultimate reason for small groups. Transformation is. Small groups draw people together with a higher purpose than just hanging out in the name of Jesus. We want to draw people around His Word so they can be fed and then transformed by it.

2. People in small groups should stay together indefinitely. In other words, breaking up a group is bad. The argument is made that “our healthy small group should not be separated.” But healthy group members will want to share with others what’s occurred in their lives. Conversely, it is also a myth that leaders just want to split every group for an underhanded reason; control, spitefulness, power-grabbing. In reality, we all know that healthy things grow and then multiply. As leaders, we also know that when things don’t grow, then they begin to drain energy from other parts of the body. Small groups are the same. Now, this is not to say that a small group that does not multiply is moldy, rotten, or cancerous. But it can be reveal an inward-facing spirit that runs counter to the mission of God. By engendering a spirit of multiplication, small groups will eventually reach more people for Christ and help more people mature in Christ.

3. Anyone can lead a small group. I want to tread carefully in this one because it is so close to true. If the statement read, “Anyone can learn to lead a small group,” then we’ve got it. But, as it stands, it is a bit naïve. It comes back to purpose. If you buy into myth #1, then anyone can lead a small group. Just be there to host everyone for a good time and a quasi-spiritual conversation. But, if you want to lead people toward transformation, then as leaders, we need to produce leaders.  Rather than just throw people into the situation of handling whatever comes up on their own, teach/train/prepare them to be a great small group leader.

If you would like to see more about the strength of small groups (no matter what you call them), I suggest that you check out two new resources. First, Transformational Groups by my friends Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer. Using data from the largest survey of pastors and laypersons ever done on the condition of groups in the church, they define a simple process to lead your groups from where they are to where God wants them to be. Second, take a look at the new site Groups Matter. It will help you dig deeper into how groups can be healthier and you can see how churches across the world are committing to staring 100,000 new groups this year. Fun stuff!

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January 27, 2014

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3 Comments

  • Reply Worth a Look 2.12.14 – Trevin Wax February 12, 2014 at 12:06 am

    […] Philip Nation – 3 Small Group Myths: […]

  • Reply Notable Voices – February 13, 2014 February 13, 2014 at 6:01 am

    […] 3 Small Group Myths – Philip Nation […]

  • Reply William Teal February 13, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I think you have hit on some very important issues in this post. Meeting for fellowship without the focus being on the main reason for it, will soon become tiring. We need to follow the methods of the apostles when they met for a meal, and fellowship. Prayer, Scripture, focusing on Christ, communion, all need to be a part. Just meet and eat with a short little devotion will not keep people who are serious about Jesus coming to the small group. Meeting without a central focus on Christ is self-defeating in purpose.

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