3 Oct 2022

What the Pandemic revealed was wrong with our Small Groups…

     … how can we have vibrant, authentic community through Small Group (SG) programming?

     … how can our children connect with others & experience discipleship growth be it online or onsite?  

     … how can we serve the surrounding community, especially in difficult times in our nation?

     … how can we reach out to those who have left our church?

These were some of the yearnings & “Small Group user-experience feedback” that were drawn from focus-group studies conducted by ChurchLife Resources (CLR) of a church’s various people / age-groups in a church project during Pandemic times. They reveal cracks in many Small Group ministries in churches even today.

While programs are important vehicles, Small Groups have become known for programs rather than the essence of community, engagements & outreach.

The verse from Hebrews has often been used to call people back to gatherings:

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:24-27, NRSV)

“While programs are important vehicles, Small Groups have become known for programs rather than the essence of community, engagements & outreach.

To “encourage” one another here in Hebrew means to turn a person’s direction, to change his from moving in one direction into moving in another direction. Without this encouragement and stirring, one may end up living in sin and wrong-doing that will face judgement (v29). The fact that these verses of stirring and encouragement (eg. Heb 3:13-15) are often followed by a verse on hardening of hearts or judgement, belies how important gathering together to help each other walk and grow toward the Lord, or face judgement. That is why SG gatherings cannot be a program, but rather a lifestyle of authenticity & accountability.

To build a SG community that can weather through Pandemic conditions is a good marker for strong & vibrant SGs even today’s Post-Pandemic season. Such SGs would have members:

  • Committed to grow & hear God even in isolation
  • Committed to engage 1-2 others onsite or online
  • Committed to find creative ways to reach a loved one for Christ

The key word of discipleship here is not the action, nor platform, but rather building “the commitment to”! Are SG architectures shaped to build this commitment? Have we checked and modified our SG programs to build our people’s practices?

I invite you to our coming Leaders’ Learning-Lab, where we will visit “what’s wrong with our SGs in the Post-Pandemic season?” CLR has been working with SGs for many years as this is a great need of churches through the Pre-During-Post Pandemic season. We will share findings and challenges SGs faced in our surveys, and CLR has been helping building healthier & stronger SGs in churches through the 10-15 years.

Don’t go back to “church business as usual”. Build up your SGs and be courageous to adjust your approach! Grow them from lessons learnt, and you will build up a SG-people that is Pandemic-proof and even Persecution-proof!

Rev. Dr. Philip Huan is the Principal Consultant at ChurchLife Resources, and is passionate about helping churches and leaders become strong and healthy!


Leaders’ Learning-Lab (L3) is hosted by ChurchLife Resources’ Rev. Dr Philip Huan & his team to sharpen your leadership aptitude as a pastoral / lay leader with a series of quarterly online learning sessions covering topics such as:

  • Understanding Church Health Pillars, Platforms & Programs
  • Sustaining Evangelism Momentum in Church
  • Sharpening the Discipleship Framework of your Church
  • Building Vibrant Small Groups, & others...

The 2-hour zooms sessions include video-learning, sharing of diagnostic frameworks, and breakouts labs to apply principles to your own church/ministry situation.

You can attend as a group of pastors / staff / elders / leaders to grow together for maximum benefit. Individual pastors may make this your continuing development journey.

Customize your learning-lab through 3 options:

i. Awareness, Understanding & Reflection (self-learning lab)

ii. Spar & listen with pastoral leaders in similar situations (peer-learning lab)*

iii. Application to your local church ministry scenario (application-learning lab)

*subject to sufficient participants of similar ministry-stage

Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

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