Small Groups are Dead

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Small groups are dead.

There.  I said it.  Now I’m cool.

In vogue right now is the idea that small groups are dead.  They don’t work.  They never really did.  They don’t help anybody grow.  They’re boring, lifeless, and out of step with the culture.  They’re not missional.  They’re not disciple-producing.  And the church needs to move on to something better.

Do I believe that small groups are dead?  Nope.

Your small group may be dead.  But small groups as a whole are far from lifeless.

Making a blanket statement against the validity of small groups may be sexy.

But I think it’s unfair.

My small group is working.  And I know of small groups around the country that are producing disciples in unprecedented numbers.

This week, I’m going to give you a few reasons why small groups fail.

Some of them may shock you.

Some of them you may have done yourself.

But knowing where the problem areas are in small groups helps us to guard against them.

And knowing is half the battle. (GI Joe fans, you’re welcome.)

What factors have you seen contribute to the failure of a small group?


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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  • Emily

    ok- I HAD to come read your blog cause we are in the thick of organizing and sorting cards to launch 7 new community groups. :)
    hoping they aren't dead yet.
    We are so pumped for our community to experience life change through groups! :)

    • Benlreed

      That's awesome, Emily! So excited to hear you guys are launching new groups!!

  • scott shoopman

    In my experience, the groups that are dead are the groups that have not grown to produce more groups. The focus of a group will often follow the focus of the leader/shepherd. If the focus is on "Us" then the group will be great for about 12 months – maybe. If the focus is on "Us" to find/serve "Them" then the group will grow, multiply (12-18 months) and create disciples not just friends.

    • Benlreed

      That's good stuff, Scott. And what makes that so great is that I know you're living it out in your small group system!