In my latest book, I defined a growing, healthy, and organic "holistic small group" in this way:
A healthy holistic small group is comprised of 3-12 persons who have chosen to live together in biblical community for the purposes of Christ-centered worship, edification, relational evangelism, and discipleship.
The ministry between group members is found both inside and outside the meetings as they serve, pray, care for, and edify one another. Holistic small group meetings are often a “discovery time” for ministry in the six days and twenty-two hours between gatherings.
The mission of a healthy holistic small group takes place when two or more of the members befriend unchurched individuals to show them the love of Christ through friendship, servanthood, and community involvement.
The goal of a healthy small group is to help each member find personal transformation in Christ. When transformation takes place in the life of a believer, he or she discovers a new self-perception in being a minister and a missionary.
The results of a healthy holistic small group are found in its fruits: members who walk in spiritual freedom and are mission-driven; the addition of new believers who have trusted Christ as a result of the group’s relational nature; and new leaders who desire to first serve as new group leaders, then go on to lead in every capacity God desires.
In healthy holistic small groups, the leader’s overarching goal for each member is similar to a parent. His or her desire is to see the members mature to the point of moving out of the leader’s “house” to form a spiritual family of their own. Healthy small group leaders work toward and expect a legacy from their efforts and dedication. In turn, the members desire to exercise their spiritual maturity and lead a group when they are ready. It's really quite simple. Healthy small groups bring the members to a point of maturity where they hunger to lead a group of their own, even if they're not quite ready to so so, just like some teenagers want to move out of the house before they are mature enough to live on their own.
Small groups may meet in any location and at any time. The important factor is for the group to meet regularly for worship,
edification, application of the Word, and planning for effective outreach to the lost. Healthy small groups are compelled to change the location, frequency, or time of meetings if they see any of these purposes suffering.
Healthy small groups, as defined here, are called by many names. Some churches call them life groups, cell groups, small groups, care groups, or home groups … just to name a few. The accomplishments of a healthy small group of believers are what is important.
In what ways does your definition of a healthy holistic small group differ from mine, and most importantly, why?