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3 Undeniable Reasons to Kill Your Small Group Approach and Start Over

There is a plethora of ways to do group. If your small group ministry isn’t flourishing (and you need to determine in your setting with your leadership team what flourishing means) it may be that you have chosen an approach that isn’t right for your church. Below you’ll find three reasons to consider killing your small group approach and go back to the drawing board.
 1. The approach you’re using isn’t accomplishing what your church wants to accomplish in people’s lives. Groups are about taking individual people where they need to go in the context of healthy Christ-centered community. For some churches that means people being on mission for other churches that means getting them on a deep, deep discipleship pathway, for others it’s all about making leaders, for some it’s wholistic small groups that live out all five functions of church life, etc… Whatever your church’s goal is for the individuals involved in the group ministry, if you’re not accomplishing that goal, a new approach may be necessary.
2. The approach you’re using isn’t in line with the church’s mission. Almost every thriving church has a mission statement. Some call it a purpose statement, others call it a vision statement. Whatever the term, most great churches have a statement that drives what the church gives much of her attention to. When the small group approach isn’t enhancing, aligning with, or is contradictory to the church’s mission, a new approach is in order.
3. Your present approach isn’t in line with your new senior pastor’s primary passion. I believe there are four quadrants to biblical group life. Those quadrants are, 1) Theological, 2) Relational, 3) Restorational, and 4) Missional.  All four of these quadrants should play out in each group but one will be the primary focus of attention. Every senior pastor will intuitively have one or the other of these quadrants as their primary passion and that is the quadrant that senior pastor will instinctively want imbedded into every group’s DNA.

When a new senior pastor arrives on the scene that new pastor’s heart may resonate with a quadrant that hasn’t been the primary focus of attention in the past. A small group ministry can be growing numerically, have momentum in the church body, even raising up future leaders consistently and still find the new senior pastor scratching his head saying, “Something just isn’t right.” In most instances it’s because the primary quadrant of group life that was right for the past senior pastor is not the same one the new senior pastor is passionate about. The small group pastor is training small group leaders to give most of their group’s attention to a quadrant that seems trite or less important to the new senior pastor because the heart of that senior pastor comes alive when focusing on a different quadrant. In this instance, a small group pastor may need to reconsider the small group approach presently being used.

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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.