This time of year can be a good time to evaluate where you are as a small group ministry and begin to pray and cast vision for change. One of the areas I think needs to be the most fluid when it comes to change is the overall structure of how you do small groups at your church.
Are the people in your church excited about small groups?
Are you launching new small groups on a regular basis?
Are you raising up new apprentice leaders and (or) small group leaders on a regular basis?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be time to take a solid look at your structure and begin to make some changes. Here are five of the most popular small group structures to help guide you in your change-making process.
“Can you open a bag of Doritos and press play on a DVD player?” I once heard a pastor ask that question to promote HOST Groups, and while these groups are a good easy step into small group leadership, they can also be a good easy step for quick growth. HOST Groups are often recruited in conjunction with a church-wide campaign. Leaders are mostly responsible for opening their home, providing a snack, and managing a pre-packaged curriculum (usually a DVD and workbook).
Sermon Based Groups
The title basically says it all. These groups are focused on the same topic or passage of Scripture that was covered in the previous weekend message. Sermon based curriculum drives home the teachings from the Sunday services throughout the week and helps people apply it even further. They allow people to ask questions and interact with the sermon in a way they can’t on Sundays. These groups are a great way to “continue the conversation” and further your pastor’s influence throughout the week.
These groups are usually open year round and will always have an “open chair” to fill. In fact, praying for the “open chair” and encouraging group members to invite family, friends and coworkers to fill it is a big part of the strategy for growth for these types of groups. Eight to ten people is usually the optimal size.
This type of group is usually limited to a certain number of people so that they can focus on building relationships, trust, and accountability between group members. They usually meet for a specific amount of time and then reopen at the beginning of a new quarter, semester, or church-wide campaign.
Open Market Groups
Quality control is a key essential in the success of managing these groups, especially in regard to resources and curriculum. Leaders are usually the type who like to make their own decisions when it comes to curriculum, meeting time, place, and meeting consistency. An open market structure can create a wide variety of groups available and makes launching new groups relatively easy.
When it comes to your small group structure, it’s not about trying to copy and paste what the church around the corner is doing because their small group ministry is exploding. It’s about knowing your people and your church’s culture well, then using that wisdom to design a structure so that people are excited about being connected in a group and develop a passion to lead one in the future.