Tag: moral failure

Behind beautiful masks


Creative Commons: Adam Cohn


It’s time to acknowledge that we all deal with junk. Sometimes it’s a product of our own doing. Sometimes it’s from someone else.

But that beautiful mask you’ve constructed is still a mask, hiding who you really are.

Quit hiding. It’s not doing you any good.

Your messy story paints a beautiful picture of grace, mercy, hope, and love.  No need to hide.

Find refuge in Gospel community, not in the secrecy of your beautiful mask.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! – God (Isaiah 43:1)




Reasons people think their small group failed

The Tennessee Titans missed the playoffs (thereby breaking my heart) again this year for a number of reasons.

But it wasn’t because of the coach, Jeff Fisher.

Or the running back, Chris Johnson.

Or the CB, Cortland Finnegan.

Or the stadium.

Or the fans.


Or 104.5 The Zone.

Or Vince Young.

None of the above were reasons that the Titans missed the playoffs.

Equally, there are many important aspects of group life that don’t contribute to the death of a small group.

5 problems that don’t necessarily lead to the demise of a small group:

1. I’m the group leader, and my group members know more Scripture than I do. A small group leader doesn’t have to be the most spiritually mature person in the church.  They do need to be increasing in their love of God, and in their love of people. (Luke 10:27) But just because they can’t reel off the reference to the time when Josiah was made king doesn’t mean that their group is going to fail.  Why?  Because the goal of a small group isn’t simply increasing in biblical knowledge.  It’s taking steps of faith together.

2. I think we picked the “wrong” curriculum. A good group knows when to put down a bad curriculum.  A good group also knows how and when to change and/or throw out unhelpful questions.  If you’re a group leader, and are worried about the curriculum, don’t sweat it.  Pray, ask for wisdom, then choose a curriculum.  It won’t kill your group.

3. We just don’t have a big enough home. Our home is not huge.  It’s ~1,200 square feet.  Yet we managed to consistently pack 20 folks in for our small group meetings (which is probably too many people, but for some reason, we just kept growing throughout the life of our group).  The size of your home doesn’t lead to the failure of a small group.

4. We lost 3 couples! Sometimes, people quit on you.  Maybe they move away.  Maybe they were offended by the Gospel.  Maybe their work schedule changed.  For whatever reason, though, people will leave your group.  But that just gives you the opportunity to spend more time investing in the folks that are still sticking around…and also gives you room to invite new folks!

5. Our group leader has committed moral failure. Since small groups are not a top-down, pyramid structure of leadership, if the leader stumbles into sin (which I have seen happen…small group leaders are surely not immune from temptation), the group doesn’t necessarily fall apart.  Since responsibilities and leadership are shared among the group members, others step right in and continue leading the group.  Trust among group members has been built, so that it feels natural when another group member steps up to begin leading the discussion.

To see some factors that do lead to the death of a small group, click HERE.

Have you seen a small group survive through any of the above?


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?


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