Sunday School vs. Small Groups: Why You Must Choose

Do you love small groups?

Not necessarily YOUR small group, but the idea of small groups? If you’re a pastor, you might be required to answer “yes.” So here are a few, better questions:

Do you love your small group strategy?
Is your church excited about small groups?
Are people joining your small groups?

As a pastor, I recognize community is a vital element of spiritual growth, yet it can be difficult to convince the crowd at our church of this truth, and even more difficult to convert the disengaged into active group participants.

Here’s the reality every pastor understands all too well: Engaging people in small groups can be a battle. Unfortunately, many churches are their own worst enemy. While there might not be one secret sauce to moving people out of rows and into circles (that’s our church’s terminology), there are some definite ways to thwart and undermine your attempts.

Here’s a small group enemy short list:

1. Competing programs.

If you want to run Sunday School, that’s fine, but don’t expect Sunday School and small groups to thrive in tandem. I have a definite (and experienced-based opinion) on Sunday School. I’ll save that for later. But for now, let’s acknowledge and important, strategic fact: Sunday School creates competition for small groups. I know some churches attempt to create small group systems within their Sunday School context, but that’s not ultimately realistic – especially if authentic community matters.

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