I received a good question from one of our small group leaders today. I think this is a critical question that many leaders and groups are asking:

What are the top 3 things a healthy small group should be doing? Shouldn’t it be more than just social, or just project driven?

Here’s my response:

Below are the top 7 hallmarks of a healthy small group. Note that the first 4 deal with how a group should be focused and organized, and the last 3 deal specifically with what they should do.

  1. Christ-Centered: Jesus is the real group leader. Life Groups meet in his presence and power and for his purposes. (Matthew 18:20)
  2. Healthy, Growing Leaders: The Life Group Leader is growing in his or her faith by being involved in daily disciplines such as Bible study and prayer. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
  3. Core Team: The group is led by a Core Team of 2-4 members who share leadership. No one leads alone. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
  4. Goals & Plans: The group has a written “Action Plan” that includes a mission, goals, expectations, ground rules, etc. (Proverbs 16:3)
  5. Connecting with One Another in Authentic Biblical Community: The group meets regularly & consistently, does life together outside of meetings, and regularly prays for and ministers to one another. Group members participate in a role (shared ownership). (Acts 2:42-47)
  6. Knowing God: Group members are intentionally being discipled. The group engages regularly in Bible study and application. (Colossians 2:6-8)
  7. Serving Others: Christ’s mission (Matthew 28:18-20) is the Life Group’s mission. The group regularly prays for their lost friends and is sharing their faith with others. The group is intentionally open to new people. The group is serving others together and/or individually (or has a plan to do so if the group is new). (Colossians 4:5-6)

The Result (a.k.a. “fruit”) of a Healthy Small Group is a group that is …

  • Growing
  • Reaching Out
  • Reproducing

A Life Group (what we call our small groups at Northeast) by definition is (5) connecting with one another, (6) growing in their relationships with God (through a variety of means including study and application of the Word), and (7) serving others (which includes being open to new people). I think a healthy Life Group strikes a balance between those three things over time.
But don’t overlook #1. It is the most important one. A healthy, life-changing group focuses primarily on Jesus. The group focuses on Him and His real presence with them when they meet. It’s His power that transforms lives, brings healing to hurting people, and moves a group to make an impact on others. And a group MUST be all about His purposes and plans for them. The most unhealthy groups are all about their own individual ideas, plans, and expectations for the group. A healthy group is people in community who have surrendered their own agendas to Jesus’.
Sounds like maybe your group is not agreeing on what your purpose is? The answer is this: What is Jesus calling your group to be and do? The answer is no big secret or mystical riddle. Jesus told us why we exist in the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

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Michael Mack has led Small Group Leadership full-time since 2012, but has been involved in small group ministry for more than 25 years.

He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. Their family small group, which includes their four young adult children, has much potential (and much anticipation) for future growth and multiplication. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of great friends who participate together in various charity rides.

See the “About Michael Mack” page under About Us for more about him.

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