How do you kill an unhealthy group?
I’ve been asked this question a number of times, but I believe it begins with a faulty premise. Yes, some small groups are unhealthy, but that doesn’t warrant killing them off.
Several years ago, my friend Brian Jones wrote a blog post, “Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups.” Many churches have lowered the bar of small group leadership to an absurd level, says Jones. I agree with him that hosts or facilitators cannot reproduce life and bring about spiritual transformation. Nondisciples cannot produce disciples. Yes, some small groups are unhealthy. They may have unhealthy leaders or unhealthy dynamics, or perhaps they have developed some unhealthy patterns.
Because some groups are unhealthy, Jones said he believes churches should kill off their small groups. I would like to offer a second opinion. Don’t euthanize your small group(s)!
As any good doctor would do for an unhealthy patient, I think church leaders should start by diagnosing the health of their groups. That’s what we did years ago at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, through our Small Groups Health Assessment (the 42-question assessment is available at www.touchusa.org/free-small-group-health-assessment and is absolutely free). Once you have diagnosed the health of your group(s), you can make a prognosis. What needs to happen to help the group(s) become healthy? Good training and coaching are major parts of the treatment program for unhealthy groups. Be sure the small groups under your care are led by disciples who love God and his people and have shepherd hearts.
I wrote my book, Small Group Vital Signs, to help churches and groups diagnose and then improve the health of their groups. If you think your group is unhealthy, or if you are a church leader and you wonder about the health of the groups under your care, perhaps this book can help you. So put away the sterile needles and let’s work on some positive remedies!