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7 Questions to Find the Purpose of Small Groups

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On a recent episode of the Small Group Network podcast the fantastic Caroline Taketa interviewed the authors of Leading Small Groups that Thrive: Five shifts to Take your Group to the Next Level.  You can listen to the entire episode here.

One of the comments the authors’ made that stuck with me was that the biggest factor contributing to the spiritual growth of small group members is their small group having a purpose focused outside the group. If the primary purpose of the small group is fellowship, or community, or bible study, the group might feel great and the members really like each other. But to create an environment for spiritual growth the small group needs a purpose outside of the group.

I can see how this is true, but that naturally leads to the question. Well, how do I find a purpose for my small group? Because, to be honest, the group I lead does not have a clear purpose outside of fellowship and bible study.

There are lots of great resources out there for why small groups are important and why you need to be in one. In Leading Small Groups with Purpose, Steve Gladen does a great job of laying out the five purposes behind Saddleback’s small groups; fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship. Your church’s purpose for small groups is great place to start.

Because your small group’s purpose should not exist outside of the purpose of your church. However, each small group must have their own individual purpose. Simon Sinek calls this “the nested why”, it will be specific to each individual group, but still align with the purpose of your church.

We each need to answer, why does MY small group exist? And is that the purpose Jesus and I want it to have?

Seven Questions

Here are seven questions to process with your small group to help discover your group’s purpose.

  1. Why did you join/lead this group, and not some other group?
  2. When telling others about your small group, or when your group gathers, what stories keep getting retold? What stories do you wish you could tell?
  3. What are the things that when your small group talks about them you forget about the time and find yourselves super focused and engaged?
  4. How is your small group going to be a part of changing the world?
  5. What is true about your small group today that would make the you who just joined or started leading this group disappointed?
  6. If you had to be with your small group all day, every day, where would you go and what would you want to be doing?
  7. If you knew you were going to die in exactly one year from today, what stories would you want the other members of your small group to share with your spouse and kids, or at your funeral?

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you process through these questions. And remember, the small groups that experience the most spiritual growth have a purpose focused outside the group.

My hope for each of you is that your small group will be so active and challenging and grace-filled and involved that the members of your group will look back and point to their time with your group as a moment of spiritual growth and closeness to Jesus.

Action Steps

  • Spend some time and process these questions with your personal small group.
  • Share these questions with another small group leader and challenge them to process the questions with their group, then share your individual small group purposes with each other.

This article originally appeared on smallgroupnetwork.com.

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Steve serves as Life Group Pastor at Compassion Christian in Savannah, GA. As husband , father and friend, he is now following his call in Small Group Ministry after a 20 year career in the US Navy. Steve's South Region includes Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee