One of the initial decisions you have to make for your groups system is what constitutes an official small group at your church. Most churches technically already have small groups. You probably have a guest experience group that greets people at the doors on Sundays or serves coffee. You may have a parking group that gathers early on Sundays to pray before heading out to help people find parking spaces. You may also have a choir group, a kids ministry volunteer group, a worship team group, a facilities group, a security team group, and a variety of other ministry group possibilities. It would be easy to declare all of these ministry teams to be small groups, but they may or may not be meeting the expectations of spiritual formation in your church.
Before you declare your usher team an official small group in your system, examine all of your groups with these questions:
- What is the goal?
Ministry groups may fill the purpose of serving, but if your goal for groups is making disciples, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Start with the end in mind and decide if your groups are designed to get you there.
- Is there community?
A ministry group may have time to gather for a few minutes before they serve prior to or after a service, but are they experiencing real life-on-life community?
- What is the content?
Unless a ministry team is also meeting outside of their normal service time, there is probably not enough margin for an in-depth study.
- What are the core elements?
At Cross Point, we asked every group to be balanced in evangelism, community, and mission. A ministry group can only focus on one or two of those practices at a time.
- What is the experience?
We have expectations of what someone will experience if they join a small group. Each element is designed to help them take their next steps toward Christ.
- How do you measure growth?
There is no way to know if your groups are meeting expectations without a way to measure it. An effective small group shows spiritual growth.
*This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us, releasing September 29.