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Choosing the Right Small Group Model for your Church

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When it comes to Small Group most churches jump from model to model. They get all fired up about the latest book they’ve read or conference they’ve gone to and change models so quickly that they end up confusing people. They don’t allow any one model to take root and produce fruit.

There are pros and cons to all of the models below, but the goal of all of this group stuff is to simply make disciples. If that’s happening, then choose the best model that fits the unique personality of your church.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post that came out of a conversation I had with the consulting team at the Unstuck Group. We were talking about helping churches get unstuck when it comes to the disciple-making ministry at their church. In particular we were discussing Small Groups. In the conversation Chris Surratt who runs SmallGroup.com and serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group identified 6 different kinds of group models I wanted to share with you.

#1 Free Market Groups

In free market groups the old adage “birds of a feather, flock together” rules. Groups are built based on affinity. In this kind of group, the content isn’t as important as the relationship. Groups typically pick their own content. There are hiking groups, fishing groups, scrap-booking groups, surfing groups, you name the hobby and there can be a group built around it.

#2 Closed Groups

Closed groups are simply that, closed. They form and commit to meet together for 18-24 months and go through a particular curriculum together. They don’t add anyone new to that group once the group begin, hence the term “closed.” At the end of that time commitment they either re-up or intentionally break apart to start new groups.

#3 Sermon Based Groups

Sermon based groups reinforce the sermon that is preached each weekend at church. There is no curriculum needed, only discussion questions provided to the group leaders for further study of Gods’ Word and discussion about the sermon. Anybody can participate if they heard the sermon that weekend or listened online.

#4 Host Groups

Host groups are often campaign oriented. Similar to a “40 Days of…” campaign. The content is completely provided in a kit and all you have to do is host the group in your home, play the video for everyone to watch and facilitate a prescribed conversation. Often times in this kind of group the host doesn’t even need to be a Christian, they just need to host the group.

#5 Hub Groups

Hub groups are similar to free market groups except they’re built around key stage of life “hubs.” Ministries such as men’s, women’s, parents, singles, and marriage ministries would all fall into this category.

#6 On Campus Groups

On campus groups are groups that meet on the church campus on a weekly basis. The most common example of this is Sunday School Classes. On campus groups have a tendency to be more lecture format and content heavy in nature.

*What other kinds of groups have you seen or been a part of? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experiences!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

One Response to “Choosing the Right Small Group Model for your Church”

  1. Bill Cleminson December 14, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Paul,

    Thank you so much for your ministry! Your articles are very helpful! Please keep doing what you are doing!!!

    Loved the recent ones on Different Types of Small Groups. I would add one more category, Home Groups by life stage (young married w/out kids, college student, young single, middle aged, etc) that meet in homes weekly. And are “Open” to new folks as space allows. Once the group reaches 15-20 folks they look at “launching” a new group much like launching a new campus to reach more people.

    Blessings,

    Bill Cleminson

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