Although church-sponsored small groups have been around for awhile, there are still misconceptions about what they are—or are not. With that in mind, here are seven popular myths that I hear about small groups.
1. Groups are for everyone—all of the time.
It’s okay for people to take breaks from group life occasionally. Even Jesus retreated from His small group from time to time. A semester system can give group members and leaders time to catch their breath in between studies.
2. Off-campus groups are more effective than on-campus groups.
Both approaches to groups have pluses and minuses. A church leader has to decide what the end goal for a group experience is, and then decide where that best takes place. It may actually be both.
3. Group leaders have to be fully trained before starting a group.
Some initial training is necessary, but most training will be more effective after the group starts and leaders begin to have their own real world examples. The church should consider providing ongoing, as-needed online training.
4. Small groups are not weird.
I can almost guarantee that for most people, attending a small group in someone’s home for the first time is a strange experience. It was for me, but then again, so was eating sushi. Make sure to set the expectations for a group experience at the beginning. A good groups connection event can help ease people into group life.
5. Small groups will solve everyone’s discipleship needs.
An ongoing small group of 8-12 believers is a great environment to begin a discipleship journey, but most people will need something smaller and more focused in order to continue that journey. A 3-1 or 4-1 same-sex “D-group” (discipleship group) can offer better accountability and more open conversations.
6. There is a perfect small groups system.
Every church has its own DNA and approach to ministry. A wise small group pastor will take good practices from other churches and shape them to work in their context. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment. Every established practice once started with a crazy idea.
7. A good small group can exist without good food.
This one may just be about me.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 23 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He is also the Small Group Specialist for Lifeway Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was recently released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at chrissurratt.com or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.