Like most people my age and older, I grew up going to Sunday school. It was all I knew. Then when I got to middle school and my dad began talking to me about starting a church, I started hearing about these things called “small groups”. Once we launched the church, my experience with Sunday school ended, and I haven’t been to a Sunday school class since.
I hear from all kinds of adults that small groups are a much better model for life-change. “Life-change happens in the context of community” everybody says. Churches with small groups are generally much cooler than churches with Sunday school. If I heard that a church had Sunday school, I would probably assume that their music wasn’t very good either.
But if I’m honest, my experience with small groups hasn’t been any better than my experience in Sunday school. I’m not discounting what you’ve seen God do in your life or in the lives of others because of small groups, I’m just saying I’ve never had that experience.
What’s worked for me is having older, wiser people speak into my life. My dad, Michael Bayne, Ben Reed. I’ve also experienced growth from being on a floor full of godly guys as we all mature together. I think that’s the goal of small groups, but the small group environment just never did that for me.
Here’s my hunch: there’s something coming that will replace small groups. It will be more intentional and relational. It will have more rigorous study of Scripture. It will be more effective. I don’t know what it is yet, but I think it’s coming. In the meantime, I think we need to accept the fact that not everybody benefits from small groups, or even likes them. This is not meant to be a slap in the face to small groups or small group pastors/leaders, it’s just my opinion.
For a cool article about a church experimenting with this, here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/3rbnfs7
Thoughts? What has your experience with small groups been?