5 Ways to Revitalize Your Small Group This Year

5 Ways to Revitalize Your Small Group This Year

Friends, Family, & Relationships

A small group ministry is the front line of ministry in the church.

It’s where large sanctuaries and gathering spaces shrink to the size of living rooms, dining rooms, and back porches; where doctrines and theological abstractions become concrete; and where the “one anothers” that mark the life of the church—“love one another” (John 13:34), “welcome one another” (Rom. 15:7), “live in harmony with one another” (Rom. 12:16), etc.—aren’t just recited but practiced.

Small group ministry is vital to our discipleship.

But front line ministry isn’t easy. Small groups are among the most demanding ministries in our churches and can be challenging, draining, and rote—especially for group leaders. What can leaders do when their group runs into a dry patch?

Here are five ideas to help breathe life into a group that’s running out of steam.

1. Spring Break

Compared to the rest of the year, summer is a time when most people retreat from work or school, go on vacation, and relax. But the weeks and months leading up to summertime? Busy. Overscheduled. Frantic. And like it or not, regular small group meetings can add to the overwhelm we and our group members might feel.

One strategy group leaders can adopt to avoid the stress is to implement a “spring break.” Scheduling a planned break or two during busy parts of the year can help group members catch their breath and rest. And sometimes, rest is the most spiritual thing we can do.

2. Table Fellowship

Some of our fondest, most vivid memories have occurred around a table. The table is a place of belonging, and what happens there—the stories, the laughter, the prayers, the food—is often as formative as anything we do in our small groups.

If you find that your group has lost some of its “oomph,” consider breaking from your normal routine to break bread together. Engage in table fellowship. Prepare a meal together. Sit around a table together. Give thanks. Bless one another. Remember the Lord’s faithfulness together. Through the food and the fellowship, “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).  

3. Service

In small groups, it’s natural to become an insular community. The time we spend praying, studying, weeping, celebrating, and singing with one another binds us together and forms us into our own little enclave. And that’s good! But if we aren’t careful, we can lose touch with what’s going on outside the walls of our meetings.

One thing you can do to keep your group energized and engaged is to serve your neighborhood or community together, either through your church or a local ministry. Service can be a great opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus for your neighbors outside the group.

4. Book Study

When a group’s Bible study becomes dull or flat, it can be frustrating and distressing. But it happens even in the best, most vibrant groups—especially if you’ve been together for a while. So, what do you do when your group’s study feels rote?

Reading books together is a great way to introduce change while still exercising your group’s “study muscles.” Discuss with your group what book would be best. It could be non-fiction or fiction (I’m a big believer in the formative power of fiction), whichever best suits your group.

5. Spiritual Disciplines

Have you ever tried your hand at spiritual disciplines like silence and solitude, fasting, meditating on Scripture, or observing the sabbath? These “disciplines” (and others) have a way of heightening our awareness of God’s presence with us and his grace toward us. Practicing them in community can give our faith the jolt it needs.

What could it look like for your group to engage in a spiritual discipline together? To what extent might fasting or memorizing Scripture together provide a needed change? Consider pitching the idea to your group the next time you gather.

Keeping Your Group Fresh

For many of us, small-group ministry is the lifeblood of the church. It’s where we go to experience fellowship and accountability, be ministered to, confess our sins, bless and be blessed, and receive prayer. Yet as rich as our experience with small groups can be, it can also become overly routine and even stale—at the fault of no one. Ministry is just plain hard sometimes. But there are steps we can take to keep our group environments fresh and provide a vibrant, formative space for the Spirit to work on us and our group members as we gather each week.

If your group has run into a dry patch, revitalize it by implementing one of these five ideas.

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Jordan Wootten

Writer/Content Editor

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