May 04, 2015

What Church Small Groups Do Best...And What They Don't. As church leaders, many of us don't have the time to stop and reflect on what we're doing. And even if we did, our reflections are often not enough. We are too close to situations, too immersed in real time ministry, to properly evaluate it or to ask the right questions. We need perspectives outside the pastorate. Yet, some pastors are reluctant to learn from non-pastors, routinely dismissing anything from an academic simply because he or she is not a pastor. But researchers may offer a better picture of our ministry than we have as pastors. They can spot trends or patterns that we can't see because we're so close to the trees that we miss the proverbial forest. Conversely, pastors can help add more nuance and colors to 'data' that a researcher may be struggling to interpret. They may map the forest, but the miss the subtle differentiation from tree to tree. Small groups are a perfect example of how pastors may learn from researchers. At many church conferences, pastors speak confidently of their latest, greatest small group model, sure that it is the new breakthrough in discipleship. But their only 'sample size' is their own congregation, and they all-too-often have no metric for its effectiveness-- except for the number of people in groups. Oh, and they may just be a little biased about their model. :) (I know: I've done this.) Enter the researcher. Below are the results of a study done by Dr. Roger Walton, a theologian (former faculty at Durham University, England) and the District Chair at West Yorkshire District of the Methodist Church in England. ------------------------- Walton conducted his research in 2011, working exclusively with church small groups. The study involved 700 people. This was a closed survey; people answered questions that they were asked....

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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