A small group, at its core, is Christ’s body in action. Stop and think about this for a moment. Your small group is the church. Not a subset of the church. Not a supportive program within the church. Not a tool to close the back door. Unfortunately, in today’s world, our mental image of “church” is usually something much bigger or more institutional than a single small group. We say, “I’m going to church,” meaning a building, a mass meeting, or possibly a structured program of some sort. The New Testament never uses the word church that way. Rather it refers to God’s people, called to carry out his mission. The New Testament uses the word church in three basic ways:

  1. The church that meets in the home (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon 1:2)
  2. The church in a certain geographical area (Acts 13:1; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2)
  3. All of God’s called-out people (ecclesia, Matthew 16:18)

My objective here is not to get into a pointless argument about the definition of words (see 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:14). I want to help you see what your group really is, or at least what it has the potential to become.

You are the church. You are the body of Christ,
perfectly arranged by God to carry out his mission for his world.  — 1 Corinthians 12:18

If your group is not healthy, this definition may not fit you today. Perhaps you are not seeing God’s mission accomplished through your group at the present time. But I believe there is hope! I believe that God can transform your group into a robust and healthy expression of Christ’s body.

In my new book, Small Group Vital Signs, I put on my doctor’s scrubs and got out my diagnostic instruments to help you measure the health of your group. Then, I provided holistic cures to help your group become the healthy body that God designed it to be.  If you are the group’s leader, don’t attempt to do this alone. Your whole group must be involved!
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This blog is an excerpt from my new book, Small Group Vital Signs: Seven Indicators of Health that Make Group… (TOUCH Publications) to be released late February, 2012.

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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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