I truly enjoy the wide variety of things that I get to do in ministry. Preaching is by far the one aspect of ministry that I enjoy the most, but another one of the most enjoyable ministries to me personally is the ministry of small groups. It is remarkably refreshing to gather in a home with the same families over a period of time and to get to know them beyond a casual hallway conversation. Last night, we gathered and discussed George Barna’s latest book called Revlotuionary Parenting and shared with each other the journey of parenting. In small groups, I don’t have to perform or play the role of welcoming 300 people to our campus. I can just relax and hang out with friends and talk about life in Christ.
When we came to Benbrook in the fall of 2004, I was still working on my doctorate with Bethel Seminary. I had just finised a course on Building a Transformational Small Group Ministry taught by a staff member at Willow Creek Community Church. I started a small group in Benbrook in the fall of 2005, and then formed a second one in the fall of 2006. Both groups were fantastic experiences with really two different groups of people.
The major challenge in making small groups work is finding the time to do it. For our family, Sunday is a full day experience (with perhaps a three hour break in the middle of the day). Wednesday nights are already devoted to church, so we had to pick another night. We held our groups on Thursday nights which seemed to work well with everyone else’s schedule. However, as our kids got older and their activies pick up and their homework got harder, it became exhausting on our family to add one more night of church activities to our schedule. Eventually, small groups fell by the wayside.
For small groups to work in our church (and in any traditional paradigm church), something has to be replaced. We cannot keep adding; we have to practice addition by subtration. And therein lies the problem. While there are some who still want to “go to church” on a Sunday night and attend a “preaching service,” this appears to be a fading minority judging by attendance. Others have no desire for another worship service but would be very excited about attending a small group in someone’s home. Which way do we embrace? Which way is of the past and which way is of the future?