Are Small Groups Keeping Us from Making Disciples?

Monday Discussion

Last week (Feb. 2012), in my weekend links I included an article with the provocative title,Why Churches Should Euthanize their Small Groups“.  There are some radical ideas, at least some will consider them radical. But there are questions and issues that need to be addressed with regard to the way small groups are pursued in our churches.

Actually and proactively euthanizing small group ministry in churches would be a disaster. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Nor does it mean it should. It is always more complicated than a title to an article. But go and read the article and come back here and begin the discussion.


  • Are we making disciples in our small group efforts? or 
  • How are small groups helping us reach new people with the gospel? or
  • Are our small group structures inhibiting the cultivation of gospel-transformed, biblically-shaped followers of the Savior? 

4 thoughts on “Are Small Groups Keeping Us from Making Disciples?

  1. The author’s critique of the Achilles’ Heel of small groups is spot on – we need to raise the bar for small group leadership. We will never make disciples if those leading the groups are not disciples.

    His solution was too simplistic though. He asked, “What would happen if we euthanized all of our small groups, taught the value of discipleship and community, and then simply let the Holy Spirit do his work?” What does he mean by “simply let the Holy Spirit do his work?” Isn’t it possible that the Holy Spirit works by causing church leaders to take initiative to create structures like small groups where people can plug in and begin to get discipled? He makes it sound like all we have to do is teach and then people will spontaneously form meaningful relationships. I don’t think that is what happens. Even organic growth requires intentionality. And small groups can be a good tool for fostering that kind of growth.


    1. Dan, I agree. Brian’s answer was both spot on and a bit simplisitc, but I think I would chalk that up to beginning to run out of steam in his post. He didn’t define what a disciple looked like or what a real process of making disciples would be either.

      But that’s a good place to begin the discussion. If we are going to raise the bar on what a discipler is what is that bar? I think Brian got the foundation right. It has to be centered on a love for Christ that results in real obedience to Christ and his commands.

      I also think it would be a disaster in most instances to “euthanize small groups.” It is very hard to take something away from people who believe (rightly or wrongly) that it is the life blood of their spiritual nurture.

      At the same time, you are right, leadership “by the Spirit” does not preclude intentional planning of structures (Trellis Building). These themes and tensions have been a constant theme of this BLOG and some of the links below might help fill out the conversation and thinking that we need to do for a renovation of our perspective.

      How dissection obscures understanding

      What if We did Discipleship Like Jesus?

      Is Spiritual Formation a better term than Discipleship?

      Why a Cross-shaped Discipleship is Our Only Hope

      Spiritual Formation and the Beast With-in


      1. If you are looking for a good bar for small group leadership, how about using the qualifications for elders in 1 Tim and Titus?


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