Last Friday, I got a chance to hear Rick Howerton, from Serendipity House Publishers, talk about the small group ministry paradigm. Here are some key thoughts for those leading/starting a small group ministry.
Types of small groups:
1. Disciple-making groups – believers wanting to develop
2. Community groups – believers and non-believers wanting to grow relationships
3. Service-oriented groups – believers and non-believers wanting to service in the community
4. Seeker groups – led by believers for non-believers to seek answers
5. Support groups – believers and non-believers working through personal difficulties
6. Healing groups – believers and non-believers in an environment of support toward personal healing
Pick the group format that best meets the needs and direction of the church. Don’t try and be something that you are not.
Relational Discipleship vs. Propositional Discipleship
- Relational discipleship is conversationally-driven, usually outside of the church walls, facilitated by a prepared leader, but not dominated, equal time in discussion and Bible exploration.
- Propositional discipleship is a dialogue, but teacher does most talking, happens within the walls of church, follows a curriculum, teacher prepares and leads the discussion, Bible exposition is majority, discussion and activities supports exposition.
Small group ministry demands relational discipleship.
Historical entry points into the Church:
- Church-sponsored programs – 1950’s Golden era
- Evangelism, witnessing, crusades, revivals – late 1950’s – 1960’s Billy Graham era
- Sunday school programs, bus ministry, outdoor Bible clubs – 1970’s Sunday School era
- Worship services, worship styles and contemporary music – 1980’s – 1990’s Mega-church era
- Missional outreach, community involvement, social needs met – 2000’s Missional era
Small groups might serve as the bridge between community involvement, building relationships, and biblical exploration.