Vision and Purpose
It is important to note that small groups have many purposes. In some churches, there will be several types of small groups, from outreach-oriented groups, to mission groups to Bible studies. The members and friends in all churches entertain a variety of needs and a variety of small group models can help individuals meet their needs and find their special place to grow in love for God, self, and others. Some points to consider when defining your small group ministry are below.
- Small groups are intentional about Christian formation. Some say that in order to be a small group ministry there needs to be a spiritual purpose.
- A spiritual purpose makes a small group ministry different from getting together for coffee or playing volleyball.
- Although the emphasis may vary, small groups often incorporate all four elements of GROW – God’s word, Relationships, Obedient living, and Worship.
What is the vision/mission for your small group?
How can small groups help implement a clear vision and mission? The answer to this question may be obvious but naming it helps keep the groups on track. Answering this question will lead you to creating a definition of purpose for your small group ministry. Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, Wisconsin includes the connection between their church mission and the purpose for small groups on their website. “Mission Covenant’s mission is to connect people to Jesus Christ and together grow as fully devoted followers of him. The small group ministry is the ‘together grow’ part of this awesome mission.”
In addition to group building and Bible study, small groups can provide a simple tool to address specific or special needs within a congregation. Consider the insights below related to using small groups to meet specific or special needs.
- Needs related to a specific issue involving only a few people can be addressed by inviting those people to join a small group
- Needs related to unique times of life can provide support or encouragement during this period (e.g., divorce recovery, death of a spouse, etc.)
- Topics related to specific issues or unique needs may be of interest to people outside your congregation (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, a local community problem, etc.)
- Groups can also organize to study an issue and develop a plan to address it
- Need oriented groups can organize quickly when a need arises and end when the need passes
What is the intended purpose for small groups in your church?
By clearly identifying the purpose of your small groups, you create a tool for evaluating their effectiveness. Are the groups accomplishing the results they were established to address? What desired outcomes are in place to demonstrate the effectiveness of your small group ministry? Note that some churches offer a variety of groups each with a unique purpose but all supporting the vision of the church.