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The Illusion That Small Groups Project

from Brian Jones:

A few years ago I brought in a nationally recognized pastor to do some consulting for our church. One of the things I remember the most about my time with him was a side conversation we had about small groups.

“I haven’t really figured out the small group thing,” I confessed to him.

“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work.

Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples.

The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.”

What do you think? Are small groups creating merely the illusion of making disciples? Have small groups worked in making disciples in your church? If so, please share in the comments section.


Small groups don't make disciples. Disciples make disciples. Small groups is a strategy that is only as good as its leadership. It is a top down leadership and it is a relational leadership. There has to be education and practice with a focus on transformation. Many small groups are simply designed to help move people into social spaces. Social spaces provide a place for mentorship but if the leadership and participation only stays on the surface without deeper relational discipleship then there is no discipleship taking place. Discipleship and small groups are not synonymous. So, saying they don't work needs qualification. What was the goal to begin with?

Good and important question to ask...what is the goal to begin with.

I read a few of your other posts and i wanted to say thank you for the informative posts..

For the last twenty two years I have been in a small Bible study
group. The size is four women. In the last six months I have felt
less and less incline to discuss/study the word in the group to
the point I confessed that I feel like I'm drifting. I also spoke
about one of my spiritual gifts which is teaching. The two older
women are now excited that I might teach the group. The leader
has some issues such as letting go of the position. I myself do not feel motivated to lead. I feel that I will only be entertaining
these two older women and not teaching them. And I feel the group is too small and have been thinking of returning to the my friend's church where I can be spiritually fed by a very good and large mature christian group of people who share their experiences.
My sister attends my church and has also drop from the bible study.
She says she was not learning either. I told my sister that I will
visiting my friend's church for another month and then return to either speak to my pastor of leaving or perhaps with my sister's
input trying to resolve the problems in the small group. I am
very conflicted,tired and most of all spiritually starved. I have
been praying about this and waiting on God. Can anyone out there
share their thoughts with me. I would be very grateful.

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