Every church leader knows the importance of getting people into small group communities. Whether it’s called Sunday School, LifeGroups, home groups, small groups, fellowship communities or something else, participation is a critical factor in spiritual growth.
A 2013 survey from LifeWay Research shows how concerns about spiritual growth and small groups are well founded. When asked how many times per month they attend small classes or groups from their church, 41% of 2,930 protestant churchgoers said “zero times.” Another 12% of respondents indicated only once per month. That means more than half of people in our churches are in a small group one-quarter of the time or less.
Small Group Involvement is Important
This disconnect is bad for the family of faith. Paul’s use of a literal human body with eyes, ears, nose and the rest as an example of the church is helpful here. Even if a person is “connected” by membership, yet not connected by fellowship, is he or she truly a part? How can we connect people to a small group for genuine fellowship, Bible study and discipling with wisdom?
Four Practical Steps for Helping People See the Importance of Small Groups
- The pastor must talk about it. It holds true in almost every single church, that what the pastor emphasizes is considered most important. This may not be best, but it is accurate. As such, the senior or lead pastor must frequently stress the importance of small-group participation.
- It must be easy to get involved in a small group. If all groups are always closed, how can a new person get involved? If opportunities, times, room numbers, addresses and clear instructions are never provided in written or web formats, people do not know how to become involved. Set up a permanent table in the lobby or hallway with a knowledgeable person to answer questions. Have a dedicated Small Group FAQ page on your church website.
- Elevate the importance of small groups in your worship services. This can be done by having leader testimonies, member testimonies, or bringing entire groups onto the stage. The pastor should talk about his own group and his participation in it. Celebrate when new groups are started, and possibly have a commissioning time in the service for new leaders.
- Use a new small-group study to involve new people. One reason I am excited about Bible Studies for Life is it will help get and keep us on the same page. Consider using it as a means of re-launching or emphasizing the importance of small groups in your church. By nature, people tend to be drawn to something new. If everyone is starting at the same time, some of the awkwardness of joining is removed. Use a new, church-wide study to create an exciting sense of purpose and new people will respond.
Help your church body stay healthy by helping your people connect and grow in small groups.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life