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Rethinking Affinity Small Groups

Affinity small groups: common-interest groups, kinship groups, attraction groups, activity groups, Churches have called them all sorts of names.  They are groups that are formed around one thing that every group member shares in common:

  • Basketball
  • Knitting
  • Bicycling
  • Movies
  • Camping
  • Books
  • Video games
  • Star Wars
  • You get the picture.

Pastors and church leaders form these groups because it’s relatively easy to get new people to sign up for a group experience that is based on something they like to do.

Here are a few of my thoughts about Affinity Groups that might expand your thinking:

KEY THOUGHT 1: Every small group is an affinity group.

  • Bible Study = affinity
  • Time and day = affinity
  • Location = affinity
  • Hobby = affinity
  • Life-stage = affinity
  • Weekly sermon = affinity
  • Gender = affinity
  • Mission = affinity

Every time a person joins a group they join it because they have something in common with that group.

KEY THOUGHT 2: Affinity groups teach Christ-Followers to do life on purpose.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
~Matt 28:19-20 (NIV)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself.
~Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

  • Your hobby isn’t just fun, it provides opportunities for discipleship.
  • Cycling isn’t just healthy, it’s a great way to experience fellowship.
  • Quilting isn’t just a passion, it can become a ministry.
  • Camping isn’t just a weekend activity, it opens up our eyes to God’s greatness so we can worship.
  • Play dates aren’t just a break for moms, they are opportunities for evangelism.

Affinity groups are about identifying what people want or like to do and teaching them to do it on purpose. They are one of the most natural ways for groups to live out their 5 purposes!

KEY THOUGHT 3:  Affinity groups are fantastic catalysts for mission.

Therefore go…
~Matt 28:19 (NIV)

“Going” can be normal and natural for affinity groups. Rick Warren taught us in the Purpose Driven Life that evangelism is the only one of our purposes that we cannot do in Heaven. While all of our purposes can and should be lived out in our groups, evangelism (AKA mission) is the easiest to neglect…this is why we must build it into the DNA of our groups. Affinity groups are possibly the simplest way for groups to take their mission into the world.

Questions To Consider:

  1. How do you feel about the following statement? “Every small group is an affinity group.”
  2. How do your thoughts about that statement impact your views of small group ministry?
  3. What do you think are the greatest obstacles for groups “doing life on purpose?”
  4. How have you seen our purposes effectively lived out in affinity groups?
  5. Why do you think it’s easy for affinity groups to become inward?
  6. What is keeping your groups from making outwardness a priority?  
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Alan Danielson is the Lead Pastor of a church that’s probably a lot like yours. New Life Bible Church is a church of a few hundred people, but not long ago he was on the executive staff of Life.Church in Edmond, OK. Now, along with pastoring New Life, Alan is a consultant and has worked with many of America’s largest churches. Despite this, Alan has a passion for the small church. That’s why he lives by the personal conviction that no church is too small for him to work with. Alan founded Triple-Threat Solutions to help leaders of and churches of all sizes grow. Learn more from Alan at http://www.3Threat.net.