What prevents many churches from realizing their desire to become churches OF small groups?* Most of the time, they’re stopped in their tracks by one or more of these fantasies:
- Fantasy #1: We can keep the peace by making small group participation one of several menu items that are promoted equally as “the way we help people grow in Christ.”
- Fantasy #2: It is enough to promote small groups once a year, annually every fall, along with everything else that’s starting up with the new ministry season.
- Fantasy #3: An announcement at the end of the service is all our people need. Anything more is overkill.
- Fantasy #4: We can make this happen without the senior pastor’s vocal and continual support.
- Fantasy #5: We can go from a church “with” groups to a church “of” groups in one ministry season.
- Fantasy #6: We don’t need our senior pastor to be the small group champion. Why are we paying the small group pastor (or director) for if we can’t delegate the champion role to them?
- Fantasy #7: We don’t need to start new groups until we fill up the groups we already have!
- Fantasy #8: All of our groups use the same curriculum. It provides everything that every group needs.
- Fantasy #9: We don’t need to provide next steps for our newest groups. They’re all adults. They can figure out what to do.
- Fantasy #10: We don’t really need to change our approach. Trying harder or tweaking what we’re doing will fix it next fall.
By the way, even healthy churches on the way to becoming a church “of” groups often have a fantasy (or two). At the same time, when fantasies go unchallenged, they will prevent or delay the decisions that lead to “of,” where nobody stands alone.
* It probably needs no explanation, but a distinction was made at Willow Creek between churches “of” groups and churches “with” groups. To be a church with groups means that you do have small groups…but it’s not the expectation that everyone be part of a group. To be a church of groups means that everything happens in groups and everyone is expected to be part of a group, where life-change happens.