Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger are passionate about small groups. They share their personal stories of group experiences and proclaim that groups truly matter. They believe that groups—in various forms—are essential to the Christian life. They write,

Do you think it’s possible for a Christian to grow apart from community? We don’t. Disciples can’t be fully formed apart from community. Community is sanctifying. Blind spots will remain in our lives unless we allow those we trust to look closely at us and tell us exactly what they are seeing.

Small groups is a effective tool for spiritual growth. Research reports that people “who attend a group at least four times a month show a significantly higher score in every area of discipleship compared with those who do not attend.” In fact, “people in groups are more likely to share their faith, repent of sins regularly, give sacrificially, serve faithfully, and read their Bibles.

And the group model isn’t as important as you might think. While many in the small-group world get caught up talking about which model for groups is best, Stetzer and Geiger share what’s really important is that groups are gathering together to do a few key things:

  1. practice spiritual disciplines,
  2. care for one another during life transitions,
  3. connect between meetings,
  4. have fun together,
  5. serve together,
  6. eat together,
  7. invite unchurched friends, and
  8. meet weekly.

Rather than do extraordinary things together, the key element should be simply doing life together, day by day. However, sometimes the reality about small groups are very different. It is not unusual to see group members acting like consumers rather than seeing group as a place to care for others, serve, and learn together. Unfortunately there are people that see the group’s primary function as serving their needs. A consumeristic mindset is dangerous in group life.

Churches use all sorts of names for small groups—life groups, growth groups, home groups, cell groups. They also use various models, different strategies, develop their own vision and goals for their group ministries. Yet all would agree that small groups are a means to an end, not an end in itself. Small groups exist as a way for people to engage in biblical community that helps them to become more like Jesus in every area of their lives.

Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger are the authors of Transformational Small Groups (B&H Publishing Group, 2014)