How Do You Define Small Groups?

Posted By: Andrew Mason

How Do You Define Small Groups?


My goal in sharing this video with you is to get you thinking! I want you to think about how you define small groups. Do you know? Is there answer on the tip of your tongue? Or are you not sure? Do you only have a “general” idea? Does your church and leadership only have a “general” idea about what small groups are?

My goal is NOT to appear to “know it all” or have the monopoly on defining small groups because I don’t on either point. I want to encourage you to have clarity on what a small group is to you. If your leaders are crystal clear on what a small group is, your ministry will generate more momentum.

What do you think?

CC Image • Caleb Roenigk on Flickr

Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason is the Small Groups Pastor of Real Life Church, a family of churches in the Nor. CA region. He oversees Small Groups and Assimilation. He is Founder of, an online community of leaders dedicated to growing churches one small group at a time. Andrew resides in Sacramento, CA with his wife Camille and their two sons.

4 Responses

  1. Dean Deguara Dean Deguara says:

    Great definition! That was a great group…they were shouting you down!

    Anyway, I think you have to continue to define and refine the definition of small groups until you find the sweet spot for your church. Ours is gathering together, growing together, serving together, and sharing together. We are still on the journey of what it looks like fleshed out, but it becomes more defined, and the need for our definition to be refined becomes more apparent as we step towards doing life together.

    Sounds warm and fuzzy, but we’re still trying to figure it out!

  2. jameshall says:

    Good definition. I would add the component of an outward mission – without which a small group often stagnates and dies. In your definition, the leadership development could be seen as the mission element – though necessarily applicable to every member. If you want to keep the “leadership” terminology, you could says that members are trained and challenged to “lead” people to Christ, and then personally “lead” the new believer into a solid walk with Christ. Ideally this would be complimented by the new believer being added to the group for the discipleship dynamics that occur through the group’s interaction.

  3. wayne white says:

    I like the part about closing the back door. If your able to get people into a small group and make them a part of the church then they are less likely to leave. They are also invested in the small group and in vested in the church.

  4. Andrew Mason Andrew Mason says:

    jameshall said
    Good definition. I would add the component of an outward mission – without which a small group often stagnates and dies.


    Thanks for jumping in here Jim! I hear what you’re saying, my definition doesn’t necessarily articulate mission.

    For me, I consider mature discipleship to result in making more disciples although not everyone gravitates towards that interpretation unfortunately.

    When I was thinking of a definition for small groups I found it difficult to have one that is obviously comprehensive AND simple/easy to remember. When it comes to language I am uninterested in creating something lengthy and complicated. 

    That definition has really helped me equip leaders to keep their groups on track at our church. If Pastors have a problem keeping leaders focused, crafting a definition can be effective.


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