You can’t argue with facts. Oh, people do. They rationalize them. They spin them. They make statements like, “Statistics can say whatever you want them to say.” But sometimes, there really are times, when the facts cannot be questioned. Small Group Pastors and leaders, we may just be finding ourselves in one of those moments.
There is a fallacy that has been espoused by many of us, a fallacy that has been hindering evangelism through our groups. Many of us have been telling our leaders that closed small groups are the only road to deeper intimacy among members and, since one of the primary goals of a group is openness and vulnerability, the group can and should be closed. It makes logical sense. It makes sense when considering group dynamics. It just makes sense. But it just isn’t true.
and Dwight Marable
have just published a book titled Small Groups, Big Impact
. They interviewed 3,000 small group leaders in 21 countries to bring us some of the most amazing and game changing information the small group world has been exposed to.
In this incredible book you’ll find these words… “We were curious to see if open groups that are actively seeking and including new people could, in fact, experience the same level of loving relationships as closed groups. We were startled by what the statistical analysis showed. Open groups actually experience significantly more community than closed groups!”
A few paragraphs later…”The results are so strong that we can actually tell you that if you want to experience deeper community in your small group, you should make it an open group that is actively reaching out to others! And, on the other hand, if you want a superficial level of relationships within the group and between its members, it would be best to make it a closed group.”
This is fantastic! After all, don’t we want more not yet followers of Christ to come on board? Don’t we want to take the masses with us to spend eternity with Christ? This revelation makes it possible for us to educate our small group leaders. We can now with integrity tell he/she, “Your group will be relationally closer if you are inviting new people into group life and at the same time you’ll be able to accomplish the number one goal of every biblical group to, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28: 19 – 21