Pastor, do you want your congregation to grow? I’m not talking about numerical growth. Do you want your members to grow in their relationship with Jesus?
Nothing will facilitate intentional growth like small groups.
But as powerful as small groups can be in the life of your church, their health isn’t automatic. The values your small groups hold will make the difference between groups that foster growth and groups that don’t.
Here are five small group values that influence spiritual growth:
- Encourage your members to show up every week to their small groups.
Just attending every other week won’t lead to transformational small group experiences. When people attend small groups consistently, they put themselves in a position to grow. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer” (GNT).
A habit means you consistently do something. You make it a priority. This is one of the reasons we ask participants of our spiritual growth campaigns to commit to a small group for a specific amount of time. Anyone can attend a small group for six to eight weeks. It’s much better for someone to attend a small group every week for two months than once a month for a year.
- Prioritize humility in your small groups.
You don’t want your small groups to elevate the value of some participants over others. Encourage your congregation to lay aside any egos before they arrive at small groups. One person who comes into a small group with a know-it-all attitude can stifle sharing for the rest of the group.
Paul wrote, “Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people” (Romans 12:16 CEV).
Nothing ruins a small group faster than one person in the group acting like they know everything. That doesn’t work. Humility means having a teachable attitude.
- Ensure your small groups are respectful of people’s doubts and fears.
Sometimes we tend to judge people by how far they need to grow rather than commend them for how far they’ve already come. Respectful small groups do the opposite. According to Romans 15:2, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others” (TLB).
We tend to believe our fears and doubts are rational and reasonable but dismiss the fears and doubts of others. The Bible says we need to be considerate of people who have doubts and fears, no matter what those issues are. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Job 6:14: “When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them” (The Message).
Small groups should be a place where we can safely share our doubts without worrying that others will judge us.
- Allow people to share their faults honestly.
We can’t grow until we’re honest about our struggles. As a pastor, you likely know how hard it is for people to admit failures. When someone attends your small groups regularly, they’ll hopefully become more comfortable with talking about their problems.
The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8 NCV).
You can model this in your own life and in your own small group. I regularly talk about how our small group has walked through tough times—from financial hardships, to illnesses, to loss of loved ones—together. These difficult times have drawn us together, and sharing about them has helped us grow.
- Let your groups become champions of accountability.
Small groups help people grow by encouraging them through accountability. In small groups, we encourage and pray for each other as we set goals for our spiritual growth. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (NIV).
Every person in your church needs someone in their life who will spur them on toward personal and spiritual growth. They need someone who will ask them tough questions about whether they’re being consistent in their daily quiet time with Jesus. They need people who can ask them about how their marriage is doing. Small groups can provide this kind of accountability support.
Pastor, small groups that demonstrate these five characteristics will become powerful agents of transformation in your church.