What People Want From Your Groups

Ed Stetzer, Micah Fries, and I are currently working on a new book, Transformational Groups, based on insights gleaned from a massive research project conducted on small groups (including classes, Bible fellowships, etc). In one phase of the research, the research team at LifeWay Research surveyed and interviewed people who were once in a group but are not currently involved in a group. The good news is that the majority of people said that they would return to being in a group if they were invited.

They also offered insights as to what they’re longing for in a small group.

Relationships

Most likely those who joined a group were told, “the way to really get connected and be known in our church is to join a group.” They likely joined a group with the expectation and desire for relationships, but it doesn’t seem the group experience delivered on that promise. In our interviews, they indicated that they wanted more involvement with the people outside of the Bible study time. When asked what makes a great group leader, a “strong Bible teacher” was ranked very low and “someone who connects people” was ranked the highest. These responses indicated a deep desire for community within a small group.

Obviously we’re not articulating, nor do we believe the respondents were articulating, that Bible teaching isn’t important. Community is only as strong as what it’s built upon; therefore, for community to be strong it must be grounded in the Word. However, one of the advantages of a small group is that the people can discuss truth together, and they can wrestle with passages together. The small group doesn’t need to be a monologue. People who move from a worship gathering to a small group are likely not thinking they’re going to receive a lecture.

Application:

Respondents indicated that they want Bible study that applies to them right now. They want to understand how the timeless truth they’re discussing impacts their lives today. Groups should be able to deliver on both relationships and application. And the two are related. Application always increases in the context of relationships. As the group discusses Scripture, individuals are able to ask questions, encourage one another, and challenge one another to apply the truth.

Are the groups at your church structured to facilitate relationships? Are the leaders trained to connect people together? Is time given for discussion so that the group members may apply biblical truths in their own and one another’s lives?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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