As I mentioned in my last post, small groups is a topic I have been studying a great deal recently. The more I read about small groups, the more I realize how many options there are to why they are done, how they are done, and the role they play in the life of the church. My last post focused on the purposes of small groups. This post focuses on the structure of small groups.
Here are some of the different structures that small groups can utilize.
1- Gender Divided
Some small groups are structured so that men meet with men and women meet with women. There are definite advantages to this. For starters, it allows the groups to discuss issues that are more gender-specific. There are also disadvantages. The main one is that if men and women are meeting separately during the week, the home is being divided more often.
2- Adult Co-ed (no children)
Other small groups have men and women meeting together, but families with children are responsible for taking care of setting up babysitting for their children. This can be costly on families, but it does give couples a way to fellowship with other people in the church.
3- Family Groups (children included)
Some churches structure their small groups for the entire family, children included. This is done in different ways, but basically the children have their own meeting (with an adult leading it), and the adults meet together. It is a way of keeping the children involved in the ministry of the church.
4- Stage of Life Groups
Some small groups are formed by putting people together that are in the same stage of life. This appears to have advantages but I’m not convinced. Sure it is good to be able to fellowship with people who know what you are going through, but those in the group miss out on learning from those who have “been there and done that.”
5- Mutual Interest Groups
Other groups are formed based on individual interests. For instance, if a group of men like motorcycles, there would be a small group for them. If there is a group of women who love watching Downton Abby, there would be a group for them. I’m not a huge fan of this option.
Clearly there are many options. One concern is focused on the need to guard against cliques being formed. To guard against this, some church have their small groups rotate every 12-16 week to allow members to get to know other people in the church.
Whatever a church does it must think through all of the pros and cons, understanding how they each affect the overall ministry of the church.
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