I have written scores of blog posts about effective small groups. There are many ingredients for effective small groups. The two most obvious ingredients are contained in the words themselves, “small groups.” The group should be small. When it has grown past 12, it is no longer a small group. But two people don’t make a group. A small group needs at least three people.
In addition to these two ingredients, effective small group ministry needs intentional leadership. Someone needs to be in charge. Someone needs to set direction and lead. Also, groups and ministry should be immersed in prayer. We should be seeking God’s leadership and blessings in our work. Training of small group leaders is important. This should occur prior to launching a new leader and group, but training should also be ongoing.
Multiplication of leaders and groups is another essential ingredient. Without the ingredient of multiplication, the small group cake won’t rise. This gives purpose to the group beyond showing up. They are to invite. They are to be involved beyond the group session.
There are many other important ingredients. I want to mention four that are listed in an article entitled Placing the ROOF on Small Groups! The author, John Caddy, serves in the area of adult Sunday School and small groups at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Caddy suggests a small group ROOF inspection might include the following four ingredients (reach, offer, outgrow, and family) which are in all capitals followed by my commentary:
REACH OUT. Is the group inward focused or outward focused? Are group members inviting new people regularly? Are you as leader challenging group members to invite friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors? Ask them to submit names for which the group can pray. Invite them to group fellowships. Invite them to group projects. Invite them to group meetings. Keep the group expecting more people.
OFFER QUALITY, FRIENDLINESS, AND MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES. Give attention to all your group does. Consistently deliver quality. This takes time, but group members and guest notice. Prepare well for group meetings. Prepare well for group activities. Be intentionally friendly. Get to know each other and get to know all guests. Don’t rush relationships. Take time to listen and be genuinely interested. Get everyone in the group involved in serving. Find them a place to minister in and/or out of the group. This gives them purpose and fulfillment, and it can help you as group leader prevent burnout by yourself or group members.
OUTGROW THE GROUP. Have as your group goal to start another group. This begins with you as group leader intentionally apprenticing another leader. Two groups will reach and involve even more people than one will. Think Kingdom growth. This changes the mindset of group members. Lead them to invite so the class will grow so and will outgrow your current class.
BE FAMILY. Care for one another. Share with each other. Come to each other’s aid. Pray together. Have fun with each other. Spend time together in and out of group time. Many in our world are looking for this kind of a group in which they can be part.
Are these ingredients present in your small group? On which does your group need to work in the next month? Prayerful awareness is the beginning of attention being given to addressing needs. Make sure all four ingredients are there. Reach out. Offer quality, friendliness, and ministry. Outgrow the group. Be family. Be revolutionary!