Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fix My Small Group Exercise

I have never done this sort of exercise here at the blog before so this should be interesting. Take a few minutes to read the article from Outreach Magazine in 2007 Fix My Small Groups! and then take a few minutes to rank the problems discussed. After having read Fix My Small Group!, I have rated each problem as follows:

1) We can't find solid small group leaders - Far too often the person who is selected to lead is the one who is willing to step up. In my experience, the same group of folks are always the ones we find in most of the ministries of the church. The old 80/20 rule has been in force in EVERY church I have ever been a part of. That doesn't mean all of those folks are equipped to make disciples. Also, rarely have I seen leadership training in place. This is a must!

2) Our small groups lack structure - It would be easy to say this is a symptom of the first problem which at times is true but I believe this is a larger issue. More than poor leadership of the group, this is a failing of the church to ensure there is a basic structure for groups to follow. This is just an opinion but I believe where this is an issue, there may also be found an issue within the leadership of the church itself.

3) Our small groups lack authentic fellowship - Without outreach and discipleship at the heart of the group, it becomes little more than a social event. Socializing is certainly an important aspect of group life but there is more, much more we ought to be there for. Weak leadership contributes to this problem.

4) Our small group members are not committed - The lack of authentic fellowship contributes to this problem. It is difficult to be committed to something when it feels like the members are simply going through the motions.

5) Our small groups are inbred and exclusive - Again, I return to the leadership of the church, not the small group itself. This problem is permitted to persist, in my view, by leaders who insist on avoiding conflict. Don't be afraid to ruffle a few feathers. These groups have something to offer or they wouldn't have such exclusive members. In love, we can change such groups.

6) We can't get new church members plugged into existing small groups - Well let's see, we're exclusive and inbred, inauthentic, uncommitted, disorganized, and our leader is the person with a pulse who got more or less drafted into their role. Gee, why won't those new members join one of our small groups? Oh wait, this isn't really a large issue since we don't have very many new members anyway. Sound familiar? What I have seen (even ass recently as this past Sunday) is someone come for membership, they are greeted and welcomed into our fellowship, and then told which class they should go to. Yep, that's it. After a few weeks they find all of the other issues we have and many decide not to bother. Who can blame them!

As we already learned (and some of us have perhaps experienced), the small group ministries of many churches do not have these issues. However, many do! For me, it is all about growth. Before anyone jumps on that little sentence allow me to clarify. What I mean by being all about growth is discipleship; growing into the likeness of Jesus Christ. True followers of Christ will disciple others and those groups so focused will grow and multiply naturally. Alas, I feel many of the issues discussed here are symptoms of the larger needs of the church itself. Too many are worried about numbers when they should be more concerned about disciples. When our churches create an environment where discipleship can occur, the body of Christ will multiply. Effective small groups are the best way I am aware of to accomplish the task of discipleship.

Looking forward to your feedback!

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