Some small groups are, in essence, dead. Many groups died some time ago, but no one realized it. There was never a funeral. No mourning. No burial. The people involved just kept showing up at meetings as if the group was still alive, but all that existed, in reality, was a cold, stiff corpse. These groups meet weekly; they do studies from Bible study guides; they pray for one another’s physical health. But that’s it. Like the Dead Sea, there is no outflow of life from the group. There is no demonstration of Spirit’s power through outreach and evangelism. Many groups go for years in this kind of lack of awareness or denial.

To understand what a dead group looks like, you have to first know the vital signs of a living group.

  • A living group is growing. People are being transformed and the number of people in the group is expanding. 
  • A living group is moving. It doesn’t just meet or congregate; it is actively involved in something outside itself. 
  • A living group has a heartbeat. It has a purpose. It exists to do something other than just feed itself. 
  • A living group is maturing. It’s not just getting older, it’s developing into what it was created to become.
  • A living group is missional. It exists to carry out Christ’s commission.
Perhaps it’s time to check the vital signs of your small group, or the groups in the ministry you oversee. Take the FREE Small Group Health Assessment today — it only takes about 10-15 minutes but provides a wealth of helpful information. Then check out my book, Small Group Vital Signs, which I wrote to help groups become healthy so that they may carry out Christ’s commission. Let me know how I can help through a training seminar in your church or through coaching/consulting. Check out my newly revised Small Group Leadership web site for more information!

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This post is adapted from Chapter 5 of my book, Leading from the Heart

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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One Comment

  1. […] years ago I wrote about the difference between dead and fully alive small groups. (Read it here.) I also wrote a post about “Mannequin Small Groups, which I decided to revise and repost; […]

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