why small groups are important

Why Small Groups Are Vital in a Church

Hi, friends. Today’s post centers on the importance of small groups in the church.

Many of those who still attend church nowadays prefer mega-churches with auditorium seating and thousands in attendance. I don’t have a problem with mega-churches in theory, but I am concerned that those church-goers can bypass all intimacy. However, even the members of small churches can skirt personal contact if they only attend the main service and zip out immediately after the preacher gives their closing words.

A two-birds-one-stone, ripple effect: small groups benefit individuals, and consequently, small groups benefit the whole church.

Small groups strengthen the church because they take listeners of the Word and turn them into do’ers who are genuinely seeking God’s will or learning how to be Christ-like in a selfish, cynical world or carrying out Jesus’s ministry or whatever else, depending on what the group is trying to accomplish. Small groups enrich the individual for the same reason–they propel said individuals into discipleship and help them grow in their faith. Can you see a sort of symbiotic relationship here? Real, nitty-gritty, bleeding-heart, energized disciples keep Christ at the head of the church, enabling its ministry to be relevant and effective. But actually walking the path that leads to that kind of discipleship is just as beneficial for the individual as the result is for the church. The individual is blossoming into a new, whole, healed creation with a galvanizing purpose.

Small groups also open up a crucial space for conversation that is closed when the preacher delivers a sermon on Sunday morning. In my personal experience, those conversations with fellow believers, where we wrestle with God and the world, are the spice of life.


I imagine there are plenty of churches that either have surface-level, boring small groups or have given up on small groups due to lack of interest. If your church falls in either of these categories, I hope you will prayerfully consider starting your own and encouraging others to participate. I’ll also mention that, thanks to technology, a small group that video chats could be formed across geographical lines.

I pray that more church-goers would go beyond “spectator” status and participate in small groups within the congregation. Growth cannot happen in stagnancy, and small groups tend to challenge inertia.

Thanks for reading! Do you participate in a small group? Let me know in the comments. I’m blessed to be in a few–

  • United Methodist Women (mission organization) unit at my church
  • District board of United Methodist Women
  • Lay Servant School staff and students (UMC district level–I’m a teacher)
  • Sunday School class at my church (surprise, surprise–I’m the teacher 🙂 )
  • Bible study group at my church

14 comments

  1. It is so important. My home church does Wednesday night discussion with the pastor. And people are directly asked answers or add in their thoughts/concerns. We tend to have small amounts on Wednesday so it’s easily done. But I have a group of two other sisters I talk to digitally and I meet one once a week for Bible study. It has truly been wonderful and another grandmother in Christ I talk to often. 2 out of 3 of these ladies I’ve met through the blogging community. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am also concerned for the spiritual well-being of an individual that attends a mega church, sits in the back, and isn’t known. What happens if they don’t show up? Nothing. No one can check in on them. What happens if they have a crisis? They are in it alone.

    Small groups are a great way to create and sustain accountability and support in times of need. You are giving others permission to spur you on in the faith.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Of the 5 churches I’ve served, only a couple had small groups. Since those churches only have 15 people worship on a Sunday, it’s already a small group. The churches that had small groups included Bible study and Sunday School classes. Most of those didn’t serve in leadership so there’s a disconnect. I also wished that they were more lay driven, but instead they depended on me as pastor to direct the group.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ryan, I can relate because my church is pretty small, too (30-40 on a good day, 20 on a meh day). We do still have small groups, but it’s not infrequent for my Sunday School class to have only 5-10 in attendance. We are on a two-point charge, so some of our small groups have a few members from each church. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t/don’t (whichever) have lay servants in your congregation. That is key to having more going on in the church (you can only do so much on your own). I feel for UMC pastors at tiny, rural, we’ve-always-done-it-this-way churches.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Agree with you wholeheartedly on the importance of small groups. They allow for connections to be forged and lives to be shared. It is so important that we learn to build community and in small groups, that’s possible because we are vulnerable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I enjoyed your post Lily! I love small groups and have participated in many over the years. I find they have helped me to get to know others in the church better and have meaningful discussions with other Christians. They are especially helpful in large churches where it’s harder to meet people.

    Like

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