Should Your Church Euthanize Small Groups?

NOT small-groups

Someone recently pointed me to a blog post that said churches should “euthanize small groups.” You can read it here. I think it’s fairly old, but new to me. At first I feared the author might be an insane murderer, but as I read, I realized he didn’t mean it literally. When he said we should euthanize small groups, he simply meant the practice of such a thing in church, not the groups themselves (whew).

The author made several arguments, stating that small groups don’t really create disciples but, rather, they tend to create ineffective, half-hearted friendships that don’t truly fulfill the Great Commission.

Okay, I could buy into that to some extent. It’s certainly been true of many of the small groups I’ve tried to be a part of. But it’s not true of all of them. So it’s a highly over-generalized idea. I’ve been a part of some truly close-knit, spiritually effective small groups, as well.

I don’t think we need to kill our small groups. But, there certainly ARE some things we could euthanize, and in some churches, this might include small groups as we know them. (Although I would never advocate doing away with small groups altogether.)

But there certainly are some things we could euthanize. We need to kill whatever it is that’s NOT WORKING.

And by “what’s working” I DON’T mean what brings the most bodies to the table.

The dilemma with so many churches is that the only thing they use to judge success is NUMBERS. We base all our church decisions on what/who brings in the most people. It’s a flawed and corrupt concept.

We have our consumer driven churches led by our consumer driven people who have bought into a consumer driven model of consumer driven Christianity.

So what are we often left with? Churches filled with CONSUMERS—people who take more than they give.

If you hand out what the people want, you’ll fill your pews. If you scratch itching ears, the people will come. But that doesn’t mean you’re spiritually successful. It simply means you’re good at providing a wanted product.

So you have a big church? Great, you’ve mastered supply and demand. Congratulations on your corporate success. Now let’s take a look at your spiritual success, because the two are definitely not synonymous.

I know it’s easier said than done, but we need to stop basing our actions and decisions on numbers. Church success is not all about numbers; it’s about spiritual maturity.

Don’t ask how many people showed up at your last meeting; ask how many people found forgiveness. Ask how many people stepped out in faith. Ask how many people showed love to a neighbor last week.

Ask how many people displayed patience, or kindness, or goodness, or faithfulness, or self-control, or joy, or peace, or gentleness (the Fruit of the Spirit, that is).

The greatest gauge of success is not numerical growth, but spiritual growth.

So, are your small groups dwindling? Sorry about that, but don’t kill them just yet. Are your small groups growing? Congratulations on your corporate success, but don’t start talking about how great your church is just yet.

Find out if you should keep doing what you’re doing by gauging the spiritual growth (or lack thereof) taking place in all areas.

Then and only then will you really know what to euthanize (the practices, that is; not the people).

Keep Reading!
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