Is life really better together?
Today I visited a nearby church and saw this sign on the wall where all the small group brochures are found and a point-person usually stands. Seems a little odd to put "Life is better together" and then purposely not have groups for people to belong to and join all year long.
This church's small group program is just that. A program. It's in place to give people a sense of belonging not easily found in the large congregation's two big weekend services. Each quarter, groups are launched for 8-12 weeks and each group is doing something different, such as a book study or a topic of interest for the congregation. I asked how many groups are focused on relational evangelism and discipleship--you know, the great commission--and there haven't been any groups formed for that purpose in many, many years.
This used to be a thriving church that saw radical transformation in the lives of members and their unsaved friends. And their groups were self-sustaining and the lifeblood of the church.
What can be done for a church like this? Can it be turned around? Maybe. We'll see. A new pastor will take the helm in about a year as the existing pastor slowly moves out and into retirement. One thing is for sure: If the small groups continue to be a program to satisfy the needs of the members instead of give them an environment to become world-changers, they're not going to succeed.