There are several reasons why your small group system may not be working. I talk to leaders all the time who are struggling with small groups because their church just won’t buy into the concept of community outside Sunday morning services. Most of the time as I continue to go deeper into these questions, similarities pop up. Here are a few reasons I’ve found that might explain why your small groups aren’t working.
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.
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.
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 and into the crowd, there has to be easy on-ramps for everyone.
No one on staff is thinking about groups
A lot of the time, small groups are just a small subset of a staff member’s job. This is unfortunate, because 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 responsible for thinking about this every day.
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 the reason we do this: 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.