Research continues to clarify for churches that people are looking for a clear and concise plan from their church that helps them in their spiritual walk with Christ. Joining a church is not enough. People want and need to know what is next. Sunday School has been and still is the best “next step” for people who are a member of a congregation. If your church does not have a Sunday School, there is the option of small groups. It doesn’t matter when they meet, where they meet or what you call these groups; people just need to know, “where do I fit in”.
Groups Help People Move to the Next Step of Discipleship
Most churches that are effective at reaching and assimilating people in their community into their church have a process to making disciples through groups. That process requires an intentional strategy to identify people who are not in a group and a precise plan how to connect them to a group. To be successful, this process needs to be people focused and relational in context. People aren’t looking for friendly groups; they are looking for friends.
Groups Propel Measurable Spiritual Growth
The purpose of each group is to make disciples. Involvement is a key contributor to a person’s spiritual growth. Research proves that the more involved an individual is in a group, the stronger their relationship is with God. For example, a person who attends bible study every week tends to be more interested in spiritual things than does a person who does not. The person who is active in the leadership or engaged in ministry with the group tends to have stronger relationships with the group and the church. Regular attendance tends to lead to more spiritually mature people.
Groups can Address the Key Attributes of Spiritual Transformation
When people are actively engaged in their group on a consistent basis, they experience a greater sense of belongingness and feelings of being loved and valued. When those foundational needs are met, a person is more likely to be open to the teachings and application of truth from God’s Word into their personal life.
Groups are the churches best strategy to make disciples. Once leaders and participants clearly understand the “strategy” the church has in place to connect, then they can connect with the lost and unchurched, provide a place for biblical community to develop, help people to mature spiritually and to live missionally.
See, it’s really not that complicated. But, it does take a lot of work.
Excellent research about groups can be found in Transformational Groups, by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger
Sean P. Keith is the Sunday School/Discipleship Strategist, Louisiana Baptist Convention