Measuring new small group health

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When a group leader launches a new small group, they’re curious. They want to know if they’re going to have a successful group. They don’t know if their group is going to stick, if people will come back, or if they’ll take steps of faith together.

How do you know if your new small group is going to “work”? How do you know if they’re going to stick together and grow and have dynamic stories of life change?


image credit: iStockPhoto user Daft_Lion_Studio

Is it that you have solid biblical discussions right off the bat?

Is it that for the first few weeks everybody shows up?

Is it that they’ve already started talking about the group serving together?

Is it just that sense of “peace,” that fluffy feeling in your stomach, that you sometimes get?

I submit something different. I saw the #1 marker of success in the small group that my wife and I lead, and I saw it last night. How do I know we’re going to have a successful group?

They stayed at our house until almost 11:00.

And we started at 6:30.

Relationally, we’ve already made deep connections. When we say, “Amen,” we’re not done. Our group isn’t defined by our study alone. Our group isn’t defined by the fact that we meet on Tuesday nights. Our group isn’t defined by our life stage or our kids’ ages. Our group is defined by significant relationships, built around the stories God has written with our lives and the story He’s writing with us together as a group.

We’ve built authentic community quickly. It just took us a few weeks, but God’s woven us together beautifully. We’ve made a priority out of getting to know each other at a level deeper than the surface. And it’s working. Late into the night every Tuesday night.

If your group hangs around after you say, “Amen,” you’re doing something right.

Without significant relationships, your group won’t last. Mark my word.


Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Margaret

    Makes me think that we should make sure we set ourselves up successfully for accomplishing our “how.” Ie: if your goal is to have them stay until 11:00 in authentic community, bring out the comfy chairs and make sure the fireplace is lit. Wouldn’t hurt to brew up some coffee and snacks–whatever would help you accomplish that goal

    • Ben Reed

      That’s a great point, Margaret. In our group, I always tell them that when we’re “done,” they’re free to leave, but that I’m going to put a pot of coffee on and hang out as long as anyone else is here. That helps communicate what we value.

  • Jason Vana

    Relationships are what make the group. That’s how we’ve gauged success within Ignite. When the students are staying after group, when they are connecting on their own outside of group, we know the group will grow in depth and in numbers.

    • Ben Reed

      How do you encourage them to stay after and connect, Jason?

      • Jason Vana

        The ideal answer: we have developed a sense of community and relationship within the ministry since we started. The probable real answer: we have snacks afterwards and they are college students – connecting with others is what they do.

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