Chuck Lawless on Six Problems Church Small Groups Experience

Member of a Bible study prays during a session of the group’s weekend retreat at the Center for Prayer Mobilization in Idyllwild, Calif., Oct. 6, 2012. | The Christian Post/Alex Murashko

Small groups are essential to the health of a church. In a small group, we can experience all six purposes of the church: worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, prayer, and fellowship.

On the other hand, our church consulting teams have also experienced numerous problems when attending church small groups. Here are six to consider, followed briefly by suggestions for correction.

1. Unclear purpose. Some groups are designed for outreach, with members inviting others to join. Others are more closed, with members living life-on-life and drilling deeply into each other’s walk with God. Many groups, though, do not know their primary purpose. Members struggle, not knowing if they should bare their soul to others, invite the unchurched, or both. 

CORRECTION: Determine the group’s purpose, and make sure the leaders and members know it. Continually keep that purpose in front of the group.

2. Bad leading and/or teaching.  We have seen this problem so often that we’re no longer surprised when we see it – though it should surprise us that churches allow poor teachers and facilitators to lead a group. Frankly, this problem is almost inexcusable. 

CORRECTION: Enlist teachers based on faithfulness, willingness, and giftedness. Provide training. Evaluate teaching, and move poor teachers to a better place of service if necessary.

3. Little or no Scripture. Here, I’m speaking primarily about small group meetings intended for Bible study. Our consultants have too often attended hour-long Bible studies that included no more than 15-20 minutes of actual Bible study.

CORRECTION: Enlist the best teachers, and make sure they know the expectations. They are responsible for making sure the Bible is taught. Leaders who cannot lead a group to maintain this standard should not be leading.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Chuck Lawless