Wondering how other churches get over these small group hurdles

My hope is that this post will be read by folks who have experience with how other churches do small groups.  I’ve got a few questions on my mind, this morning.  These are some of our greatest challenges in the small group ministry at Fellowship Church in Holden, Massachusetts.  It occurs to me that it might be wise to piggy back on what others are doing rather than re-invent the wheel.

#1) How do you move people into small groups?  This question really has 2 sub questions:

A) Any suggestions on how to spur folks who casually or consistently attend services into small groups?  The senior pastor does an incredible job of mentioning, almost every week, how important small groups are to what our church is about, but it seems like we might be doing more to make it easier for folks to get connected.

B) How can we help group members (and group leaders) to feel comfortable inviting unchurched friends to small groups; how can we use small groups as an entry point into the life of the church?

2) Are there any guiding (perhaps biblical) principles that help balance small group autonomy/confidentiality with small group accountabality and expectations?

3) As a married man, how can I best support the female leaders of the small groups?  We view most of our groups as being lead by couples, on the assumption that there are certain issues that might be awkward or uncomfortable for people to go to a leader of the opposite sex about.  An unintended consequence of this is that the male leaders get more attention and support than the women.

4) How do we measure spiritual growth?  Is there any way to ensure that lives are being changed within the groups?

Thanks for your insight,



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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Wondering how other churches get over these small group hurdles”

  1. Really good words on small Churches and there ministry’s my suggestion is No comment on those who do not show interest on small Churches but your encouragement through this post is marvelous I appreciate your hard work for showing interest on small Churches, thank you.


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