After many years in small group ministry, leading a small group, working with small group leaders and tracking the journey of hundreds of small groups, we have discovered that there are two clear killers of small groups. Practicing either one of these will cause stress on group members and eventually destroy the group.
1. Gossip: Relationships are one of the keys to a great small group. For the group to become transparent, relationships have to be built. However, when someone breaks the written (or in some cases the unwritten) agreement of “What happens in SG, stays in SG” confidentiality, transparency is squelched. The length of time it will take to seriously damage or kill the group depends on the degree of the gossip, the subject or comments made through sharing personal information outside the group.
This is one of the subjects that should be discussed early on in the life of the group and when a new-comer joins the group. Whether you have a written, voted on, signed Covenant or just a list of agreements by which you will life together, CONFIDENTIALITY must be discussed!
2. Lack of planning: Not all of us are organized and detailed. Many of us carry a smart-phone which contains a calendar. Our lives are busy and most families plan for things outside of work and/or family more than one day in advance. (I did not want to push for too many days in advance :-)) So when the text comes during the Sunday morning worship service from your small group leader that “We want to have small group tonight, who wants to host?” it is too late. Or when some individuals in the group begin to email “When are we meeting again?” it usually means we have not planned very well.
This is not an instant killer, but over time, repeated offenses will result in no-shows, drop-outs and the death of the group. While it is not a subject on most Covenant lists, it is a vitally important task that you may want to delegate. If you are not planning over 2 weeks in advance (we suggest 2 months planning for the summer) you may be putting undue stress on the group members.
Take time in your next small group to mention these two killers. Don’t let them sneak into your group’s life and destroy the trust and relationships.