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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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

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