The decision to quit your small group is a difficult one. I have faced this decision before, and the people pleaser in me shuddered at the thought of announcing my departure—especially to a group I have grown to love, with women who have encouraged me in my spiritual walk.
So how do you know if you should quit your small group? How do you know when “it’s time”? Below are five indicators of when you need to move on.
- If you’re no longer “growing.” We should not confuse small groups with churches. One of the biggest grievances against the Millennial generation (and rightly so) is our church unfaithfulness. As soon as the worship starts to get dull, or the preaching gets a little uncomfortable, or the pastor asks us to tithe—we bolt. This is a separate matter entirely from the small group. Robert Tew once said, “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” While this quote misses entirely the point of servant leadership, a small truth can be gleaned from it: walk away from a small group where you are no longer growing. If you start to feel stagnant, complacent, or unchallenged, maybe it’s time you consider a new group where you are discipled and you become the best “you” you can be.
- Follow the 2- to 3-year “rule.” While this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, small groups by nature are transient. We weren’t made to stay in the same place forever. Eventually, when new seasons of life come, you move on to a new set of friends. You change jobs. You change schools. You change social circles. It’s natural. It’s healthy. It’s part of the cyclical nature of life. The same is true of small groups. If you’ve been in a group for a few years, consider some new people you could minister to, or vice versa.
- If the group isn’t rooted in Scripture. This is a big one. The longer a small group is together, the more tempting it is for group members to become comfortable with one another—and complacent in their study. They move on to self-help books rather than books of the Bible. Prayer requests become gossip exchanges. “Catching up” is confused for “discipleship.” If any or all of these habits have become common practice in your small group, move on.
- Question your motives. If you feel the desire to leave, let’s not place all the blame on your small group. Maybe it’s you that has changed. Ask yourself: Why am I in this group? What do I hope to gain? What are the pros and cons of staying? Question your motives. If your motives aren’t based in your spiritual growth, maybe you need to move on and adopt new motives.
- Set a new goal. With the first two months of the new year nearly behind us, take a personal inventory of your New Year’s Resolutions. How have you been progressing? What have you been slacking in? Where have you been compromising your values? Most importantly, how has your discipleship experience changed since the New Year? If you’re not satisfied with the answers to these questions, it’s time to adjust your habits to reflect your values—or it’s time to set an even better goal for the remainder of the year.
Caroline Case is a proud Nashville transplant from Naples, Florida, who serves as the Production Editor for Lifeway’s SmallGroup.com and Discipleship in Context teams. Caroline has a Bachelor of Communication from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in English at Belmont University in Nashville, where she will go on to pursue her doctorate and teach.