Scripture and Relationships in Small Groups
I have a theory: Every small group will need to balance its focus on Scripture/spiritual formation with relationships/fun. And every person who enters a group will come in with different expectations for both. Some come in from a Sunday school or Bible study background and desire greater depth of biblical knowledge. Some come in with little to no biblical knowledge and need to encounter the overarching story of Scripture first. Others are entering a group because they want to make friends and they’re ready to share.
The matrix below attempts to characterize four types of people as they enter a small group based on a mixing of their desires. Though the top right quadrant combines a high desire for Scripture and high desire for relationship, those in it may not be the most spiritually mature. Their motives for wanting deeper relationships may not yet be transformed by the Spirit. But they are in the best starting spot going in.
Those in the other quadrants each have barriers to overcome before they’ll let their guard down, allow God to change their priorities, or participate fully in the group.
Recognizing what people desire in a group can be revealed by asking some open-ended questions?
- When you were signing up for a small group, what was going through your mind?
- What do you hope to gain from being a part of this small group?
- What is one thing you hope doesn’t take place during small group?
Note: The matrix is based on personal observations over the last decade-plus of ministry. You may find there is something missing or that my assumptions are skewed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!