The commitment

I have a small group that I am a part of that meets every week.  And I’m going to have to miss it soon.

I’m going out of town, and there’s no way I can make it back in time.  And that really bothers me.  Even though it’s only the 3rd time I’ve missed the group in 2 years.

Because I made a commitment to the group.

When I joined, I committed to being there every week.  The people in my group aren’t imposing any guilt on me for missing.  They’re not upset.  The group will carry on without me, no problem.  Somebody else will lead the discussion that night.  Somebody else will take up the prayer requests.  Somebody else will make sure the group keeps moving forward.  The group isn’t dependent on me.

But I’m bummed I can’t be there.

I’m missing out on

  • a dynamic discussion
  • a broken-hearted request
  • a cry for help
  • an opportunity to praise God for His goodness
  • a belly laugh
  • a good meal
  • catching up on life
  • sharing my own difficulties
  • sharing my own triumphs
  • doing life with friends
  • praying for a friend
  • being prayed over

You may not like my small group (I wrote about it HERE).  But I do.  These guys challenge, encourage, and equip me to do what God’s calling me to do.  Their influence in my life is beyond measuring.

To get the most out of your small group, you’ve got to make a significant commitment. Otherwise, a small group is just a Bible study.  A group of acquaintances.  An I-have-to-go-to-that-again? meeting.  A burden.  A time-waster.  Something that takes you away from what you really want to do.  A place of forced community.

Make the commitment to the folks in your small group.  They’ll be glad you did.

And so will you.

Have you ever made the level of commitment necessary to really invest in a small group?

Have you ever seen someone not make that commitment, and burn out quickly?

 

Why groups fail

Two days ago (see post HERE), I made a “sexy” statement:

Small groups are dead.

But, like I said, I don’t believe it.  I believe that small groups are alive and well in many churches in America and throughout the world.

Are small groups dead?  I don’t think so.

I believe that some small groups are dead…and maybe one of those small groups is yours.  But I don’t think that small groups are on their way out.

It’s like me saying, “The Cincinnati Reds had an awful season…so Major League Baseball is dead.”

Or…let’s take it a step further.

“The Cincinnati Reds are an awful franchise…so Major League Baseball is dead.”

Both conclusions are a leap.  Just because the Reds are abysmal doesn’t mean that the MLB is a goner.  There are many great teams, making plenty of money, winning plenty of games, and growing plenty of fans.

The Reds need to make some changes.  But they, as a team, don’t discount the MLB.

However, some small groups are dead.  In fact, you might be in one right now that’s dead.

Why do some small groups fail?

1. Lack of commitment. Some people think they want to be a part of a small group.  But in reality, they don’t.  They’re not really ready to make the commitment necessary to truly be a part of a small group.  Whether they’re not really ready to give up a night of their week, or not really ready to be open and honest, or not really ready to participate in the discussion, or not really ready to make an investment in someone else’s life…the truth is, they’re not really ready for small group.  And a group with uncommitted group members quickly dries up.

2. The gap theory. When there’s too large of a gap between when a small group launches, and when they meet for the first time, vital energy is lost.  When there is more than a 3 week gap, most groups will have a tough time ever getting off of the ground.

3. Relationships don’t form. I give a group 8 weeks.  If after that amount of time, there’s no “gelling” going on, you can just about guarantee that the group is either going to eek along for the rest of its life or die a quick death.  You can have the greatest small group leader of all time facilitating the discussion…but if the relationships don’t form, get ready to throw in the towel.

4. Time. Some groups need to start over.  They’ve been together so long that the relationships are at a level of comfort that’s not conducive to growth.  In our context, we’ve found that time period to be around 15-18 months.  At that point, it’s time for the group to multiply and start new groups.

5. Lack of vision. If the group doesn’t know how to measure success, they will constantly feel like they’re in a state of failure.  But with a healthy vision, an expectation of what a group “win” looks like, groups can aim for, and accomplish, the goal.

6. Lack of fun. If a group only studies the lesson every week, it’s going to crumble.  I tell our group leaders that if they don’t actively try to make their group fun, people won’t come back.  Boring groups aren’t very attractive.  Just like a boring version of Christianity isn’t very attractive.  Christians can, and should, have fun…what better place to do that than in a small group environment?

7. Lack of serving others. A group should focus on itself.  If relationships aren’t built among group members, the group will remain shallow and fake.  But if they only focus on building relationships with themselves, they get, in a sense, fat.  Serving others is like spiritual exercise…putting our faith in action.  I love this quote by Reid Smith

Christians on mission are sacrificial by nature. It’s why mission is important to group life & the Church!

Have you been a part of a small group failure?  What led to its death?