I Killed My Small Group: Confessions of a Small Group Pastor
I am to be found guilty as charged. I can’t hide it anymore. I confess to the killing of my small group. Let the jury proceed in charging me with home group homicide because when the evidence is carefully examined it will reveal me as a small group killer.
Let it be known that this killing was not premeditated. I had no intention of killing my small group on that Sunday after church, but I had it. I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore, when I finally had done the unthinkable.
Everything was going great. We had launched our small group around an eight week church wide campaign. The first Sunday had all the signs of a successful small group; several couples showed up, we fellowship-ed around some delicious food, we watched the teaching video and had great discussion followed my a very transparent prayer time. People were moved to tears, promises were made, new relationships seemed to have been kindled. This continued until about week 5 and now as I look back this is when the everything began to go wrong.
Couples that were so excited about being in a small group started making excuses why they couldn’t stick with their commitment anymore. We continued. One by one they began to fall off. We continued. When week 8 rolled around I put the fate of the group in their hands and they agreed that we should carry on. We continued. To help make the small group more convenient we went to meeting every other week. The group dwindled even more. People lost track of when we were meeting and didn’t come, but we met anyway. And then it happened. I didn’t even want to go. I knew that my wife and I would be the only ones to show up at our host’s home that day. As I walked it was written all over their faces; tired, weary, worn out. We ate what would be our last meal together when I finally did it…
“Let’s kill the group.” I said, not sure how they would respond.
Their eyes beamed with hope, a burden had been lifted with a sigh of relief. They admitted to discouragement and feeling like they had failed. I assured them that I was going to take the responsibility for this killing and that I was responsible for the death of this small group. As I have pondered what went wrong with our group and what caused me to kill it here are some clues that I ignored:
1. I Didn’t Communicate – I delegated the communication piece to our hosting couple and I should have taken that responsibility until the group got rooted and established.
2. I Allowed the Group to Go Longer than 8 Weeks – I wanted the group to continue, but now I recognize some groups are not meant to be long term groups. 8 weeks would have left a good taste in everyone’s mouth asking for more.
3. I Didn’t Connect with Others Enough Outside the Group – I repeat this principle all the time but what happens between the groups is the glue that keeps a group together. Although we did manage to get out on a double date with the host home couple we could have connected with other couples in the group more.
4. I Think the Meeting Time of Our Group Taxed Us – Sunday immediately following our church services got old real quick. It makes for a really long day without a break. A later start might have served our group better.
5. I Started to Look at the Group as an Obligation – I know this is really bad to say, but it’s true. When your small group becomes a have to instead of a get to it’s time to kill it. Your attitude determines the atmosphere of your small group. End of discussion.
As I await sentencing from the Small Group Justice Department feel free to leave your comments that I might be granted mercy…
Photo Credit: Patrick Feller