From Event-Driven Ministry to Relational Ministry Using a Small Group Model

Church events are a great time to connect and have fun. Most of us love an excuse to get together and catch up, so doing that at the same time as practicing your faith is ideal. There is ample opportunity to celebrate together at church, from prayer meetings and Bible study groups to potluck lunches and fundraisers.

Chris Holland
April 6, 2022
Kids Ministry Leadership

But what happens when your church becomes too event-driven? When the Sunday morning gatherings and community events become the pinnacle of your faith, you may have missed the point. If those four hours on the Sabbath day become a spectacle of faith, your congregation might be failing to build deep relationships with God.

Instead, guide your community towards genuine church relationships and pursue projects that make a meaningful difference in the world. Ditch the events that only bring temporary happiness to your attendees and put more energy into creating an environment that encourages deeper connections. 

Read on for more information about the best way to do this – the small group model.

What is the small group model?

Church group meeting for coffee and bible study

The small group model is increasingly popular, as it prioritizes the importance of strong personal connection within the church. It offers an opportunity for members of your congregation to have an open conversation, pray more intimately, and re-visit the content of the sermons of that week. Your groups can meet immediately after the main church service on Sunday or arrange an alternate time that works for you.

Why are small groups important?

Small group prayer

Small group Bible studies.

Think about how people experienced the Bible in the days of Jesus. The disciples would gather to study what would later become the Bible we have today, sharing in their feelings of faith. God has always wanted us to connect – God wants us to experience His word together. The Bible quote “the disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles” (Acts 2:42 GW) highlights the importance of praying together.

Helping each other.

On top of that, small group ministry models set the congregation up with a support network. Within your group, you have each other’s backs, and you offer one another guidance when it is needed or called for. When God called for small groups to gather, He essentially called for us to have groups of friends within the church. It should be a place where you can share what’s happening in your life, experiencing the ups and downs together.

Praying together.

There is power in praying together, which is felt most strongly during the Sunday services. But there is a different kind of strength found when praying in a more intimate group. Sharing in prayers for your valued members when they need a little extra support and in turn receive that support back whenever you need it. Human connection is special – it is a gift from God that we should cherish and develop.

How can my church make the change?

Song service at a church leader's house

Making the initial shift from events-driven to small groups-based can be challenging at first. Changing the status quo might meet some resistance from your regular churchgoers who prefer to see things stay the same. So, to make the transition as smooth as possible, don’t make any sudden drastic changes. Instead, educate your congregation, keep them in the loop, and make them aware of your vision.

Reduce the number of events you run.

The people of your community probably love the time they spend together at events and will be reluctant to let them go. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to stop events altogether, but reducing them is crucial. We all live busy lives, and every event, program, and ministry you run will compete for their time. If your community has already committed to two additional programs, they might not think attending the small group meeting is necessary.

Highlight the benefits of the change.

People may see small group meetings as a waste of time if they don’t fully understand the positives. So, highlight the benefits and let your church members know long before you make the transition. You could even offer a meeting with the potential for discussion and questions so any grievances can be aired and queries answered. This way, everyone is on the same page, and your congregation can move forwards together.

Offer short and long-term groups.

Many people get afraid of long-term commitments within the church, as they don’t want to disappoint their church community. And, if many people fail to show up frequently, the entire idea behind small groups is damaged. To combat this, offering different time scales can provide a commitment-free option for those with busier schedules (3-6 week program), and long-term small groups for those ready to dedicate their time. Plus, some people might simply be unsure if the small group setting is for them, so offering them a little taster could be what wins them over.

The motivation behind small groups at church is clear. Deep connections are forged among members of the congregation and church workers too, creating an environment of love and care at your church. Events-driven churches can fall into the trap of feeling like a facade. If everyone loves to meet up and celebrate at an event but lacks genuine connection, your church will feel fake. God wants us to share our lives and love thy neighbor, so make your community have a connected church. Make it a place of love for adults and children alike.

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