In this section I would like to make a case for the importance of groups in your church. Traditionally the discussion on groups will only focus on Cell Groups or Home Groups but our discussion will cover all varieties of groups e.g. Church Groups (Men, Ladies, Youth and Sunday School) or Departments. We believe that every church should have a very strong strategy for their different groups. Groups provide a great platform for the church to put its vision into action. Actually, you have a better chance of achieving your greater vision as a church if you can break it down into your groups. But this all starts by having strong group leaders who are vigilant to the role their group play in the greater church vision.
Without a strong group strategy, your church runs the risk of build Sunday consumer Christians. This type of Christianity is part of the consumerism that is now prevalent in our generation and has also fully infiltrated the church, to the extent that “church shopping” and “what I got from the sermon” are things we say without thinking anything of it. People go to Sunday services to “get something.” They choose churches that “fit them” and match their checklist of preferences, just as one would choose a car or a new pair of jeans. But churches must challenge rather than cater to this mentality. Church is a place where members of a body come together for purposes beyond themselves. Without strong groups your church will not be able to challenge this problem.
It is in group environments, not Sunday services, that people can deepen relationships, share their joys and sorrows and ask those questions that they cannot ask on a Sunday morning. A group is a place where Christians can build each other up, as they are bidden to do in scripture. It may also be a place where non-Christians can be welcomed in the hope that they will experience the love of Christ in His followers and want to know more. It’s easy to slip in and out of church unnoticed. It’s not just megachurches where this happens. In an average-sized church of 100 or 150, people may be coming each Sunday service, but not getting involved. These people may need accountability in their lives, encouragement in their walk with God, or help in some way. Groups provide a way to better meet these needs.
A research on small groups was conducted involving 700 people who were asked to answer questions on how their lives have been impacted by small groups. Below are the findings as they pertain to the responses from the research questions.
From these responses, you can conclude that groups help members worship, fellowship, go through discipleship and engage in ministry. All these issues are key in helping members integrate into the life of a church.
10 Reasons Why Groups are Important
Adapted from Daniel Threlfall
1) Groups foster close relationships and integral community. The small group atmosphere is ready-made for building friendships. People talk more in small groups of people. People are quick to recognize needs, and help to meet them. The relationships formed within small groups form a strong fabric within a church. Relationships that are formed outside of the (sometimes artificial) setting of a church service, are relationships that will endure and strengthen over time.
2) Groups provide a comfortable introduction for nonbelievers to the Christian faith. Groups are a powerful missional tool, allowing for the greater spread of the gospel among nonbelievers in the community.
3) Groups provide an ideal way to care for the needs of people within the church. When one believer in a small group is struggling financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, etc., it is much easier for the members of the group to notice and provide help. The structure of a small group is essentially a community of believing friends. Friends should help one another, especially Christian friends.
4) Small groups provide a way for Christians to live out their faith instead of merely hearing more preaching or teaching. If Sunday morning is for listening, then the rest of the week is for living. Whether it’s discussing the Sunday sermon, talking about a spiritual battle, or simply praying for one another, small groups create a context for Christians to live out their faith in real life.
5) Groups participate in focused prayer for one another. Prayer cannot be overrated, but it is often underpracticed. Groups can better participate in prayer for one another.
6) Groups provide a comfortable atmosphere for openness. One thing I like about small groups is that we meet in homes. There are at least twenty-six references in the New Testament that talk about believers meeting in homes or being part of a household. (Not all are references in Acts: Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2). Homes are usually comfortable places—places devoid of pews, PA systems, and stages. They are places where people can open up, listen, learn, and grow.
7) Groups allow for mutual edification among believers. It’s easy to depend upon the professionals to give us our spiritual food. According to the Bible, God gives spiritual gifts to all believers, not just the guy who preaches on Sunday morning. These gifts are for the benefit of the whole church. Every Christian should minister to other Christians with his or her gifts. This happens most naturally, effectively, and purposefully in small groups. Plus, we start to realize that other believers face the same problems we do. Edification is at work.
8) Groups encourage better learning. Listening to a sermon is a great way to learn the Word, but it is easy to become detached or daydream during a sermon. We become passive listeners. Not so in a small group. When a few people are together, every individual is expected to be involved and to participate. This active involvement is an effective way to learn better.
9) Small groups help to cultivate leadership within the church. Someone has to lead a small group meeting, or at least facilitate the discussion. Unless your entire church is the small group (unlikely), there will need to be leaders other than the pastor. Thus, small groups give opportunities for leadership development within the church.
10) Small groups provide a source of encouragement and accountability. It’s easy to slip in and out of church unnoticed. It’s not just megachurches where this happens. In an average-sized church of 100 or 150, people may be coming each Sunday service, but not getting involved. These people may need accountability in their lives, encouragement in their walk with God, or help in some way. Small groups provide a way to better meet these needs.
Churches should have a variety of groups for the congregation to participate in, variety and diversity is crucial in order to accommodate everyone that is in church. For this reason, we have defined groups by these categories: cell groups, church groups, special interest groups and departments.
Cell groups are typically made up of between 6 to 12 members who are led by a cell leader and meetings are usually not conducted in the church sanctuary. Meetings are usually conducted in any of the members’ homes, rooms in the church building or other third-party venues. Cell meetings may consist of a fellowship meal, communion, prayer, worship, sharing or Bible study and discussion. There are a number of models on building effective cell group structure, we encourage every church to explore a model that best suits its unique environment. Regardless which model you apply you should ensure that you have an effective strategy.
In our strategy, we emphasise the importance of variety in your groups strategy because there is no one size fits all. For one reason or another some members might not fit well into cell groups. When this happens, other groups can fill the gap. Below is a list of other groups that should be part of your holistic groups strategy. Our tools especially the Pulse Mobile App are meant to empower your group leaders.
These are the traditional groups you are familiar with, they are demography linked. In most churches, they are organised in these demographics, Men, Women, Youth and Sunday School. In some churches, other demographics like Widows or Single Mothers can also form part of the Church Groups. These groups have much of the same goals as Cell Groups the major difference is that they are much bigger in size. One of the key factors in the success of Church Groups is dedicated and capable leadership. In the hands of the right leadership Church Groups can play an integral role in the growth of your church.
Special Interest Groups
Sometimes a church might have a common interest among some of its members to warrant the formation of a stand-alone group. It’s crucial though to ensure that the interest has enough people to justify the creation of a stand-alone group. Special interest groups are a great opportunity for the church to assemble the members with the common interest. For example, there could be a homogenous interest for an entrepreneurial or business group in your church as there could be a number of business owners or self-employed members.
Departments are operational groups who serve the church at large especially during services, events etc. Departments deal with a specific area of activity carried out by church members to serve, express or spread their faith. Examples of departments in the church are Choir, Ushering, Media and communication, Welfare and Hospitality