Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders 5 Reasons Small Groups Are Not Working at Your Church

5 Reasons Small Groups Are Not Working at Your Church

There are a myriad of reasons why a small group system may not be working. I talk to leaders all of the time who are struggling because their church just will not buy into the concept of community outside of Sunday morning. Most of the time as I start drilling down with a few questions, some of the same reasons start popping up. Here are a few reasons why small groups may not be working in your church:

  1. The senior pastor does not believe in them. This will kill a groups system before it can even start. Some pastors know that their church should offer some sort of smaller groups, but they do not completely buy in enough to be the champion of it. The lead pastor has to be the head cheerleader for why circles are better than rows (blatant Stanley rip off).
  2. Small groups are just another program. When competing for resources, groups are going to lose every time. If a church is offering 100 different programs during the week and groups are just one of them, people will choose the easiest, quickest item on the menu. Investing time into other people’s lives is not quick and easy. Discipleship requires focus.
  3. There are no easy on-ramps to groups. How hard is it to get in a group? How many levels down on the website are they? If groups are not offered as an entry point to the church, they will have less of an impact to the congregation. If your groups system is going to reach beyond the core to the crowd, there has to be easy on-ramps for everyone.
  4. No one on staff is waking up in the morning thinking about groups. A lot of the time, small groups is just a small subset of a staff members job. Trust me on this – building and maintaining a healthy groups system is not easy. There are always issues because people are always messy. Someone who is passionate about seeing people grow spiritually should be thinking about this every day.
  5. Vision has leaked out. Small group leaders need to know that what they are doing every week is making an eternal difference. Cleaning your house for group every week gets old. Hearing about other people’s issues can drag you down. They have to be consistently reminded that the reason we do this is because we are called to carry out the Gospel by discipling other believers. Groups are vital for the spiritual health of your church.  
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Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of "Small Groups for the Rest of Us, Gospel-Centered Small Groups" and the just released "Leading Small Groups: How To Gather, Launch, Lead, and Multiply Your Small Group." You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.