I have spent the day with Rick Howerton, small group seminar and consulting director for Serendipity House. He and I are on a mini-tour of Kentucky today and tomorrow. When we finish tomorrow night, we will have been in four cities in two days talking about small groups.
The message of small groups is one more churches need to hear. With 40% of people today unable to attend church on Sunday morning, the church must take Bible study to the world at times when the world can attend. Many today are seeking spiritual answers and many would say yes to our invitations.
Many are also seeking relationships, and Bible study groups can be opportunities for relationships to take shape. In the course of the tour, there were many things Rick said that rang as important in my mind. One of them is the importance of inviting unchurched and lost individuals, couples, and families to fellowship with us. Rick suggested that they know the difference between being invited to a program (class fellowship) and being invited into a relationship, such as being invited as a couple into the home of another couple. Josh Hunt would agree with Rick. Josh emphasizes giving Friday night to Jesus in his book, You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less.
Others are asking whether a church can have both small groups and Sunday School. Rick pointed out that in all his years of experience he had only heard of two churches that had effectively transitioned completely from Sunday School to small groups. At Living Hope Baptist Church, he saw small groups involve 450 people in a few short years while at the same time Sunday School was increasing. I personally have heard of churches that attempted to make this transition (too fast?) that failed miserably.
One question being asked today by many church leaders is whether small groups are more effective than Sunday School. The majority of churches being launched today begin with small groups. This is frequently a common sense, financial decision as much or more than a decision to be a church of small groups. Andy Stanley and his leadership team chose to begin their ministry with small groups at North Point Community Church.
Whether we offer Sunday School or small groups meeting in homes and/or other locations, what we do must be done with excellence. The church is Christ’s body in the world. What we do for Him matters! Be revolutionary!