transitioning into small groups

If you’re church has made the transition from no small groups to small groups, I’d be interested to hear how you went through this process.

What lead to your decision to move to small groups?

How did you prepare your people for such a change and transition?

What type of groups do you have now?

How has it improved community within you congregation?

About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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4 Responses to transitioning into small groups

  1. mattdabbs says:

    I have never been through the transition itself but being the coordinator of a small group ministry I will say what I can. The biggest shift you face is the shift in mindset/paradigm from a facility mindset to an identity mindset. We are God’s people no matter where we meet. You will probably have a group that wants to meet at the building. That can work alright but it almost feels like that group is totally different than the rest at times. There are things people feel more at liberty to say in a home than in the church.

    Things you need:
    – Solid backing from the elders and pulpit minister
    – Vocal backing from both those groups from the pulpit
    – A vision that is cast on a regular basis that small groups are an important part of the congregation
    – An expectation that all members will be a part of a group
    – Leader training, a leader’s manual, clear communication with your leaders
    – Apprentice leaders in ALL groups to ready the group when it is time to multiply
    – Communication, communication, communication.
    – A good way to track attendance (we added that to our website and now they fill out a form online – works great).
    – Lots of prayer!

    Let me know if you have any questions and I will help how I can.

  2. thanks Matt for the input. You give me certainly something to consider.

  3. rustypants says:

    i HIGHLY recommend that you read The Search to Belong by Joe Myers before you start this process.

    Myers is NOT anti-small-group, but he does give some cautionary advice and perspectives, warning about churches thinking that “this is what everyone needs” and trying to get everyone to participate. he looks at the various types of “community” and their dynamics – it was eye-opening and helped me correct some things that i had attempted to start and re-think some of the things / messages i was putting out in the small groups that i had started (we had previously not had small groups).

    it’s DEFINITELY a mistake to think that everyone in the church needs to be part of a small group or that you will somehow become assimilated into an instant group of best friends, etc. once i read this book and really analyzed things from his ideas on community (and even realized that **I** do not like being in a small group), the groups were more successful (as less pressure on the groups and less pressure on those who were not part of a group already was given).

    he’s also got a blog / website at:


  4. ben says:

    It’s wonderful to read that you are considering a move to small group ministry. As one of the earlier posters noted, small groups is not the a ‘miracle grow’ for churches, nor should you expect 100% participation. In fact, the Hybels and Saddlebacks are thrilled to get 50% participating in their small group ministry and they consider themselves, in some instances, as churches OF small groups.
    I’m the minister supporting the small group ministry at our church and I’ve found that you MUST have leadership (elders and pulpit) backing you or the ministry will never fly.
    Furthermore, a clear vision for what you hope to accomplish with this ministry buttressed by good scholarship and ministry insight will get you on the right course. Bring in an expert to speak to your leadership or to your church about small group ministry. There are seminars available (, for example) that help set the table for beginning a small group ministry. Finally, I would say, give God room to work. Many small group ministries are so over-managed/micro-managed that groups rarely feel the freedom to go as God may lead them. Provide the necessary structure, but too many demands laid at the feet of volunteers will turn a wonderful opportunity for pastoral ministry into a huge burden.

    God bless, ben

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