How Long Should Your Small Group Meeting Last? (You Might Be Surprised)

How Long Should Your Small Group Meeting Last? (You Might Be Surprised)

Over the years I’ve surveyed over 4,000 small group leaders to uncover the key elements that produce vital, growing groups. I’ve consistently asked the leaders how long their meetings are. But I’ve been too busy looking at other things and actually never analyzed how the length of small group meetings impacts their growth.

I finally took the time to do this. Wow! I was shocked by the results. I think you will be, too. Or maybe you’re smarter than I am.

Small Group Meeting Stats

In this round of research I surveyed 1,140 small group leaders in 47 different U.S. churches.

The specific question I asked them about their meeting length was: “Normally our small group meetings last:” to which they could answer:

a. Less than 60 minutes
b. 60-90 minutes
c. 91-120 minutes
d. 121-150 minutes (2.5 hours)
e. More than 150 minutes

Just 2.3 percent said that a normal meeting of their group lasts less than 60 minutes, 34.4 percent said that their meetings go 60-90 minutes, almost half (45.8 percent) said that their meetings are 91-120 minutes, 14.2 percent had meetings 121-150 minutes, and 3.2 percent said that their meetings are more than 150 minutes or two and one-half hours long.

I compared the length of group meetings to four small group growth measures:

1. The number of people visiting the group.

2. The number of people coming to Christ through the influence of the group.

3. The number of people joining the group.

4. The number of new groups and leaders emerging from the groups.

I found the length of meeting only impacts the third of these growth factors, the number of people joining the group.

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jimegli@churchleaders.com'
Jim Egli is the Leadership & Missions Pastor at the Vineyard Church in Urbana, IL. He blogs on small groups, discipleship and multisite church ministry at JimEgli.com.