Gung-ho On Groups?

When I ask this question, I'm really not trying to be funny. Really!

But who are your friends? Where did you meet them? When you were a kid how did you make friends?

My friends were always in my neighborhood when I was a kid. David, Jason, Brendon, Doug and others were always running or biking through the streets. As best I can remember (which isn't so good sometimes) we usually had things in common which brought us together and made our friendships solid. As I watch my kids growing up, I see the same pattern.

How come adults don't seem to do this so well? People don't seem too often to know their neighbors as my parents once did. In our neighborhood, sometimes we get together at a pool or on the porch, but does it happen enough?

A few weeks ago our District Superintendent, Dr. Warren Lathem, DS (and former Sr. Pastor at Mt. Pisgah UMC), hosted a summit on evangelism for our District. With his track record as an evangelist, Dr. Lathem certainly has the background. One of the areas which he challenged us was in the area of small groups.

Here are some of his thoughts:

Groups over 6 weeks old are closed groups

Small groups consist of Sprinters and Long Distance Runners. There are more Sprinters than Long Distance Runners

Groups can meet effectively at 4, 6, 9, and 35 times.

Make sure your Small Group Ministry offers a wide variety and several open doors during the year. If all groups start in the fall, what happens to the person who comes in November of May?

There are Four Kinds of Groups in the Church:

Ruling Groups
Groups dealing with leadership issues: Trustees, Staff-Parish, Deacon Boards, etc.

Learning Groups
People gathering for a time of intentional learning: Disciple Bible Study, Beth Moore, etc.

Relating Groups
People getting together to...well...get together. Most Sunday School groups fit this bill but it could also be folks gathering to go hiking, do quilting, or just having dinner.

Doing Groups
Groups with a purpose to accomplish like a Habitat House or mission team.

I've been thinking about whether these are the only type of small groups. Could there be others? What would they be?

Dr. Lathem also suggested if your starting new groups, this should be the priority:

1. Relating Groups
2. Doing Groups
3. Learning Groups
4. Ruling Groups

May I Ask: What makes a small group meaningful? Important? Life changing? When was the last time you were in such a group?

May I Suggest: Reflect on a small group you've been a part of. What was the type of group and how did the group impact your life? Would you do it again? Share your experience here!


Frank Chiapperino said...

Ken, I happened to stumble on to your blog and I am totally gung ho on groups. They are a huge part of our church life. My advice to anyone would be if you are not currently in a life changing group then start one!
Stay tough, tender and teachable.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks for the comment Frank. Small groups have so much going for them but I think in many churches it isn't part of the culture and which can make it a challenge to get them going. I'm still trying to look at culture and make note of small groups and how they form. Any observations?

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