Chris has over twenty-two years of experience serving the local church; most recently, on the Executive Leadership Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
I believe small groups are where sustained, life change happens best. When a group of people spend time together in Biblical community, spiritual growth is possible. But when small groups are the option and not just an option at a church, there are also tons of additional benefits that come along with them.
Here are 5 benefits of offsite groups:
1. Offsite groups solve space problems.
Cross Point is a growing, multi-site church, and on-campus space is an issue. Even if we wanted to offer a more traditional Sunday School format for classes, we would not have anywhere to put them. A few of our campuses are portable, and they are allowed to use just enough rooms to pull off a Sunday morning experience with worship and kids. Even our permanent facilities are completely packed on Sundays with what it takes to create an effective environment for families. We could build more buildings and continue adding rooms, but there will never be enough space. Small groups in homes all over the city are the best answer to space problems for us.
2. Offsite groups limit choices.
Recent studies have shown that people are paralyzed when faced with too many choices on a decision. As Americans, we like to believe that the more options we have the better, but it’s actually the opposite.
One of my favorite restaurants in the world is In-N-Out Burger. They offer four things on their menu: Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, Shakes and Drinks. That’s it. It helps that their burgers are really, really good, but I love that I don’t have to think about it when I go in. I just order a cheeseburger and fries. I also love the food at The Cheesecake Factory, but the twenty page menu of options gives me anxiety every time I go. Apple recognized this early on and started creating simple and obvious products. One button is all you need.
When new people visit your church and ask what they should do next, the answer should be one button: join a small group. If small groups are an option among many, they will lose every time.
3. Offsite groups broaden the span of pastoral care.
No matter how big or small your church is, you will never be able to hire enough staff to facilitate spiritual care for every person who attends your church. Starting a small group gives people the opportunity to discover their God-given gifts and abilities through leading.
Instead of always hiring more staff pastors to keep up with the growth, look to your small group leaders. Imagine having leaders pastoring their small circles of community all across your city. The group leaders at Cross Point have become the first line of care in the church. If one of the pastors is required to make a hospital visit because of an emergency, the person’s small group is almost always already there waiting.
4. Offsite groups create a natural pipeline for leadership.
A question most churches are asking is, “Where do you find leaders?” A small group system is an ideal incubator for potential leaders and future staff members. If you want to find out if people will follow someone, ask them to start a small group. If you want to find out if someone can build teams, ask them to coach 3-5 small group leaders for a semester. Looking for your next campus pastor? Look for the small group leader whose group is now the size of a small church.
5. Offsite groups make a large church feel small.
We all want our churches to grow, but the downside to growth is the loss of personal intimacy. After the church grows beyond 300 people, it’s impossible for attenders to know everyone. This is exasperated when a church goes to multiple services, and it is completely lost when a church becomes multi-site (more than one location). The only way to keep people from falling through the cracks is by creating a system to catch them. Small groups help the church keep people who would otherwise drift back out in anonymity.
We all long for the feeling that someone knows our name on Sunday. Small groups provide it.
This article was originally posted on www.chrissurratt.com.