Over the years I have attended and even led several different small groups. While most of them were good experiences there were some that just didn’t meet up to expectations or the group members just never really jelled into a group. With the cumulative effect of those group experiences I think I can speak with some first-hand authority of what a typical church small group looks like and what an ideal small group should look like. The typical small group asks only three things of its members.
First a typical small group asks that group members attend – usually every other week. And that‘s a huge mistake because every other week is not really frequent enough for you to connect with others in the group. If you happen to miss a week or the group gets cancelled one week, then it can be four weeks – or more – between meetings. A group that meets only once a month begins to feel and function like a committee – not a small group. In order for there to be any sense of closeness, that group is now going to have to meet for several months – essentially meeting over a period that is 2-3 times longer than a weekly group – for group members to connect.
Beyond attending there is little else for group members to do. Some level of consistent attendance is seen as the best we can hope for in a typical group. There is no shared leadership, or shared responsibility for hosting. Beyond those two roles (host and leader) the only role left is to attend. Why is that a problem? The clearest reason is that if there is not shared leadership then there is not shared ownership. And without shared ownership there is a weaker commitment on the part of the attenders to even show up.
In part 2 of this series I will identify the next item that a typical small group asks of its members but I’d like to hear from you. How often does your small group meet? How does that work for you?