I follow a Facebook page daily to see what small groups pastors and point-persons are talking about. I took a screen shot of this post not to shame the person, but to discuss the reason behind the lack of participation in his church's small group program. My thought are so "out there" for this group that I rarely post much in response to stuff like this because they simply cannot identify with my experiences and paradigm surrounding healthy small group life.
- Groups that are formed around the interests or needs of the members and primarily focus on self-improvement will grow stale rather quickly, although they'll usually create a good draw from the congregation in to a group if they've not experienced group life in a church before.
- Groups that are formed to only meet for three months don't give the members enough time with one another to discover much about the others or themselves as they relate to others.
If your church has groups like this, they were probably launched to close the back door of the congregational services, and/or give participants a sense of community and intimacy they can't easily get from the congregational gatherings. There's no nice way to state it: doing this is a bastardization of biblical community, and your church is reaping what it sowed.
- Form a prototype group with those from existing groups who have a heart for reaching the lost for Christ. Make the reason the group exists to reach friends for Christ and disciple them and make it abundantly clear that the group has been formed for these purposes.
- Spend most of your time together as a group praying for the lost, praying for yourselves, and talking about how wonderful the people are that you're hoping will come to Christ as a result of the group praying together. This is the "curriculum" for the group meetings.
- Adopt a discipleship pathway that helps new believers learn the basics of the faith, get set free from satanic bondage, and helps them see God's values and discard their earthly values for His values over the course of a year or more. Give it to those who reach a friend for Christ and help them use it and refine it along the way.
- When the first group is reaching people for Christ and discipling them, pray about who can be challenged to leave the group to start a group of their own. The team that is sent out will have reached friends for Christ and will be seen as leaders because they have followers.
Small groups have the potential to be powerful biblical communities that are transformative in nature and will grow on their own if they're started with the correct priorities.