10 Signs of Life and Death in Your Small Group

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Is your group thriving or barely breathing?

There are few things more disappointing than anticipating a Holy Spirit-influenced, Jesus-centered small group meeting where laughter, sincere prayers and new understandings of God’s grace, love and commitment to His expectations are made. But I’ve been ambushed by an apathetic experience many, many times. So what is it that brings a small group meeting to life?

Small group meetings come alive when …

  1. The leader has been praying for her/his small group members throughout the week.
  2. Group members have been in conversation between meetings.
  3. Every group member has been spending time with God daily between meetings.
  4. The group cries out to God expecting Him to do something.
  5. Everyone is more concerned about everyone else than they are themselves.
  6. The goal of the Bible study time is to find out what God is saying.
  7. The outcome of the Bible study time is a commitment to thinking differently or doing differently.
  8. The group leader models authenticity.
  9. Group members are honest enough to ask others in the group to help them carry the burdens of life.
  10. The group takes the time to celebrate significant life experiences with a group member.

Small group meetings are dead when …

  1. The small group leader is late.
  2. The coffee is cold, the entrée is burned and the plastic forks break on that entrée.
  3. There’s not enough food for everyone.
  4. It’s so hot in the room, people are sweating.
  5. It’s so cold, group members ask for blankets.
  6. The hosts won’t put their cat in another room, and some group members are allergic to it.
  7. The lighting is so dim, group members have to squint to read.
  8. Group members answer their cell phones during meetings.
  9. Group members are texting during the meeting.
  10. Group members are texting one another during the meeting.

Little things make a HUGE difference!  

Rick Howerton Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.

More from Rick Howerton or visit Rick at https://rickhowerton.wordpress.com

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  • Dr Wilberforce

    Small group that is under persecution from outsiders often embrace one anther for support. Persecution often attracts prayer, tolerance and love… Thanks Rock for your insightful write up…


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He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32