This post was last updated on March 30th, 2021 at 04:46 pm.
Church leaders that work with small groups wonder why the percentage of small group attendance is just a fraction of the overall church attendance. Why is it important for people to participate in groups? Church leadership knows when people connect or dare we use the cliché term ‘plugged in’, they will be a viable part of the church’s ministry. Why are small groups so hard to get people to participate? Is it because they started with one purpose, but then the leadership wanted the group to serve a different purpose? Was the group flawed from beginning? Is it because people begin a small group than quit after awhile, showing a lower group participation percentage?
While churches may not have a high percentage of small group participation in Sunday School, this doesn’t mean the ministry should stop. Sunday School may only work for a percentage of families for a number of reasons. Some more important questions are, what’s an acceptable level of participation for Sunday School as a vital part of the church’s mission? Also would other complementary groups increase Sunday School participation and get more people involved in various ways, thus increasing small group participation? Some ideas are recreational groups like a motorcycle group, a veteran group, and so on. Or how about educational groups and these don’t have to be about one’s faith. For example, groups learning how to weld, small repairs around the home, or cook. We must remember people have a variety of backgrounds and each are yearning for certain things out of life. We can’t fit them all nicely into one ‘group model’ within the church.
Some may say how does learning small home repairs help the church? My answer to this is two-fold – 1.) It shouldn’t always be about helping the church as this never helps the whole community. 2.) When people are empowered to fix things, which in turns save money because they didn’t hire a contractor, wouldn’t they share with the church some of those unused resources? Many households are struggling and if they can save money somewhere by learning simple fixes around the home, that helps them financially, therefore allowing them to give more.
A case in point, when I bought my first home, I was literally lost because I was never taught how to make even the simplest repairs like fixing a light switch, which today in my area cost about $150.00 for one switch. What made it harder was my family didn’t live in the area so they couldn’t help. If I knew how to do it, that’s about $145.00 savings to my household — $5.00 for the switch at Home Depot. Where do you think I may reallocate a portion of the $145.00 I just saved, when someone from church taught me how to fix it?
Many times people don’t attend a group because they haven’t found a group that has the right dynamics for what they seek or matches their background. For example, the Veteran group probably wouldn’t have many non-veterans attending. Why? Most non-veterans couldn’t relate to any thing a veteran may have seen in combat or offer personal advice. By the same token veterans may not take part in other groups because others may not understand them. Are both groups important – absolutely.
This is the first part of a two-part series. Stay tuned for the second part. 🙂
Roger Cullen says
Small groups are important more as an indicator of vitality than as a cause of vitality. If a church is engaged reaching new people with the gospel, meeting needs in the community and ministering to the faithful, then small groups will need to form. A church with its members and not-yet-members all attending to the mission, will discover that it ‘magically’ has formed a variety of small groups. Recognizing and supporting them, and celebrating them often will encourage all to be in mission.
Roger – Thank you for your comments and we appreciate the insight that it provides to other blog readers. 🙂