What a Healthy Small Group Is NOT

A CLUB. A healthy small group exists to make disciples and experience the abundant life together. Different groups find varied ways of doing that.

A CLIQUE. Healthy small groups are always open to newcomers.

An ORGANIZATION. A healthy small group is a living organism. It is the body of Christ.

ONE DAY A WEEK. A healthy small group is more than just a meeting. The members of the group share life together as a family. The meeting is family-reunion time. The rest of the week, group members naturally pastor one another – visiting, making phone calls, having dinner together, serving together, shopping together, etc. In truly life-changing groups, members meet together regularly and spontaneously.

A CLASSROOM. Healthy small groups practice Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” The group leader is a shepherd rather than a teacher. He is not the group’s answer man.

A ONE-MAN SHOW.  Healthy small groups are teams where everyone has a role.

Just a BIBLE STUDY.  Healthy small groups study God’s Word with an eye to apply it to our everyday lives. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Healthy small groups should do “Bible do’s” as much as Bible study!

JUST A PLACE TO LEARN AND TALK ABOUT GOD. A healthy small group meets in Jesus’ name and for His purposes and experiences God’s presence when they gather. (Matthew 18:20). He ministers to and through the group. He is the real power for the group. His purposes are the group’s purposes.

A THERAPY GROUP. Members of healthy small groups care for one another, but they are not meant to turn into psychoanalysis sessions. When a member has a need, the group responds with care and prayer . . . period! They do not offer advice unless it is asked for. They come alongside the hurting person to say, “We’re going to go through this together.”

A BAND OF RENEGADES. Each group is interconnected with other groups and with the overall mission and ministry of the church. Leaders receive support and training. They are accountable to leadership to keep things on track. The group is an integral part of the whole body of Christ.  

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Michael C. Mack founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and served as a small-groups minister for more than 20 years in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than 25 books and small group studies, including his latest, World's Greatest Small Group (pub. January, 2017). He regularly blogs on his ministry website at SmallGroupLeadership.com. His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.