4 Worst Ways to Engage Your Church Small Group

A good small group is more than a Bible study that meets once a week. It’s a collection of people committed to being involved in each other’s lives. If you want these relationships to flourish, avoid these common communication traps:


1. Unpredictable meeting schedules

We’re all incredibly busy, and making sure that everyone’s calendar syncs up can be a nightmare. In order to accommodate many different schedules, it’s tempting to “be flexible” and change the meeting time. But this ultimately hurts more than it helps.

The more a group’s meeting time bounces around, the more communication it takes to keep everything running smoothly. Inevitably, people will miss meetings or, worse yet, show up for meetings that aren’t happening.

Find a schedule that works and stick to it. If you have to cancel occasionally, that’s okay (but don’t make a habit of it). Even if you sometimes end up with a smaller group, a set schedule is going to serve you better in the long run.


2. Unclear communication practices

Let’s say that you’re scheduling a small group potluck. How do you communicate? Do you phone everyone? Text them? Ideally, you have a clear communication strategy that doesn’t require anyone to reach out to everyone individually or lay the burden of communication on one person.

A Facebook group or shared calendar can be a great way to keep everyone on the same page. If your church has a mobile app, it can make communication even easier and make it a shared responsibility. Have a set communication channel and make sure everyone understands how to use it.


3. Undefined small-group goals

What’s the purpose of your small group? Is it to provide a place to invite new people? Is it to study the Bible or discuss Sunday’s sermon? How does a discussion occur?

If your goals aren’t clearly defined, how will you know if things are going according to plan? Setting clear objectives gives you a target and helps you define success. This isn’t just important for your small group: It’s essential if you want to recreate your successes (and avoid your mistakes) in a new group.


4. Unknown next steps

Like yogurt, every small group needs an expiration date. If the same group meets too long without filtering new people in and releasing others to lead other small groups, they can become ingrown and unhealthy. There’s a danger in a small group going well forever, and that can create little cliques and cabals within a church.

One of the biggest challenges for small groups is knowing when it’s time to transition—especially if everything’s going well. There needs to be a vision for growth and change. Otherwise, you’re not growing new leaders or inviting new people to experience the life-changing power of Christian relationships.

But it’s not enough to know what the next steps are—they need to be communicated. It’s a lot of work to get a small group to a place where everyone is okay with being transparent and vulnerable. People will naturally resist having to start over with a new group. That’s why you constantly need to cast a vision for where you’re going.


Small Groups Are a Privilege

Transformation happens through community, but it needs to go deeper than what we experience on a Sunday morning. That’s what makes small groups so powerful. They get us out of our comfort zones, allow us to be real with others, and through them, we grow.

When we avoid these communication pitfalls, we set these groups up to succeed, flourish, and change even more lives!



Jayson D. Bradley

Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog JaysonDBradley.com has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.

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