For nearly a year, I’ve been coordinating the small group ministry at our church.

When you plant a church, there are dreams and visions for what every aspect of your new congregation could and should be.

Inevitably, some things go better than you could ever dream and other things take longer to get off the ground. For us, we had a big dream of having 60% of our average adult attendance in small groups within 3 years.

Our highest participation rate in our first three years was between 25-30%.

It is not anyone’s “fault” that we had yet to hit our goal. However there are two truths about small group ministry I wish someone had told us before we started.

I’ll tell you now so you’re ahead of the curve:

1) Small Group Ministry is way harder than anyone will admit.

Recruiting leaders, training leaders, coaching leaders, choosing or writing curriculum, advertising groups, helping groups launch, helping groups multiply, helping people find groups, helping people switch groups, deciding what to do about summer… It’s a lot. When there’s a breakdown in any area, your whole small group ministry will feel it. I’d love to tell you the secret formula, but I’m beginning to believe it doesn’t exist. There’s no shortcut for hard work. If you’re convinced that there’s no better context for discipleship to happen at your church than small groups, then don’t lose heart. Find ways to be efficient when possible, over-communicate with your team of leaders, pray a whole lot, and work insanely hard. Hear it from me, your church can’t do small group ministry as a hobby. Commit and lean in or bail altogether.

Your #church can't do small group ministry as a hobby. Commit or bail. #SmallGroups Click To Tweet

2) Small Group Ministry done well revolutionizes your church.

In the seasons when our small group ministry was its healthiest, our church was its healthiest. Why? Because small groups do an insanely good job at creating an environment of spiritual growth and fostering a network of care, prayer, and support. When people know that they have a community of people who will step into the hard places of life without judgment, it changes them. When people are being spurred on by other believers to grow in their knowledge of God and in good works, it shifts their perspective on life. Small group ministry is hard, but the payoff is immense.

Don’t give up. Unless small group ministry isn’t important to your church. Then, consider the cost.

However, if you believe as we do that small group ministry is the best avenue for discipleship, then don’t lose heart. Lean in. Innovate. Keep moving forward.

The juice is worth the squeeze.

Small group ministry is hard, but the juice is worth the squeeze. #Leadership Click To Tweet