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Sunday School vs. Small Groups (Part I)

Jennifer Byrd December 1, 2014

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Most churches offer an opportunity to meet together for Bible study in a group.  There is no doubt the traditional model going back many years is Sunday School, which typically takes place before the main worship service.   The small groups model is a relatively new phenomenon that usually meets in group member’s homes.  Some churches even offer both to try to fit this into a busy family’s schedule.  Lets take a look at the pros and cons of the small groups model and see if it might be a good fit for you (and/or your  church).
Pros:
1.    Outreach Potential. Many unchurched people are more willing to attend when invited to someone’s house instead of a church building.
2.    Relaxed Setting. Sitting in one’s living room or den automatically produces an atmosphere that can put attendees at ease compared to a classroom at church.
3.    Unique Curriculum.  Often you can utilize your television/DVD player to show a video-driven study that might not necessarily fit as well in a classroom setting.
4.    Personal. Class size is limited due to size of home and can provide a more intimate setting where you can really get to know one another.

Cons:
1.    Limited space.  A home is limited to as many people who can fit into one room.  This can be a big hindrance to growth.
2.    Childcare.  This can be a major issue if you have a lot of kids and can possibly be a distraction to the small group study if the children are in close proximity.
3.    Burdensome.  If one family hosts for an extended period of time, it can become very taxing on the host family.  A lot goes in to preparing week after week.
4.    Can Be Cliquish.  Because space is limited, families that meet together for a period of time become close quickly.  This can lead to thoughts of keeping the group together and never multiplying to reach more people for the Lord.

These are some pros and cons to small groups ministry.  There are certainly some solutions for the cons mentioned above.   With a lot of prayer and planning, God could certainly help small groups become a vital part of your ministry.

Share your thoughts with us, including any pros or cons you would add to the list.

And be on the lookout for our next article focusing on the pros and cons of Sunday School ministry.

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