There are a myriad of reasons why a small group system may not be working. I talk to leaders all of the time who are struggling because their church just will not buy into the concept of community outside of Sunday morning. Most of the time as I start drilling down with a few questions, some of the same reasons start popping up. Here are a few reasons why small groups may not be working in your church:
1. The Senior Pastor does not believe in them
This will kill a small groups system before it can even start. Pastors know that their church should offer intentional paths to discipleship, but they struggle with knowing how to implement a healthy groups system. The lead pastor has to be the head cheerleader for developing disciples within the framework of community.
2. Small groups are just another program
When competing for resources, groups are going to lose every time. If a church is offering 100 different programs during the week and groups are just one of them, people will choose the easiest, quickest item on the menu. Investing time into other people’s lives is not quick and easy. Intentional discipleship requires focus.
3. There are no easy on-ramps to groups
How hard is it to get in a group? How many levels down on the website are they? If groups are not offered as an entry point to the church, they will have less of an impact to the community. If your small groups system is going to reach beyond the core to the crowd, there has to be easy on-ramps for everyone.
4. No one on staff is waking up in the morning thinking about groups
A lot of the time, small groups is just a small subset of a staff members job. Building and maintaining a healthy groups system is not easy. There are always issues because people’s lives are always messy. Someone who is passionate about seeing people grow spiritually should be thinking about this every day.
5. Vision for groups has leaked out
Small group leaders need to know that what they are doing every week is making an eternal difference. Cleaning your house for group every week gets old. Hearing about other people’s issues can drag you down. They have to be consistently reminded that the reason we do this is because we are called to carry out the Gospel by discipling other believers. Groups are vital for the spiritual health of your church, so it’s important to keep the vision for them in front of the congregation.