Here’s an outstanding example of using small groups within a large, multi-campus church.
A few things I’d like to highlight:
1. One of the tougher debates when a parish is thinking of starting a robust small groups culture is the question of purpose, what exactly are the small groups about? There’s no one answer. But, there needs to be an answer–otherwise debates over what constitutes a legitimate small group will likely emerge. In this example, the purpose of small groups is to help people Connect to each other, Grow to be more like Jesus, and Serve God’s mission.
2. Check out the sheer diversity of small groups. Some, like Alpha are in the “core discipleship” category providing a kerygma-centric experience, great for newer believers or those who’ve never made that step in their faith before. Others are clearly oriented towards the serve aspect of small groups. Others are what we might call “interest” groups, aligned around doing something fun/social–this focuses more on the connect purpose of groups. There’s 3 pages to click through…so check it out!
Okay, so this isn’t the model for church small groups. But it’s a well done example of what it looks like when nearly all of the life of the congregation is channeled into small groups. Could you imagine a Catholic parish where all of the life of the parish…the food pantry, the rosary prayer group, adult faith formation, liturgical volunteers at mass, etc. was organized into small groups, with sign ups at targeted times throughout the year (e.g. Sept, Jan, Lent/Easter, and June?) I think it would be easier to motivate people to take that next step and get involved knowing that it’s not a lifetime commitment–and we might be able to build more authentic community by having a group vs. (in the case of liturgical minister volunteers) a long list of lectors, etc.
Interested in small groups? Check out more resources here.