The Most Unreported Number That Makes The Biggest Difference in Small Groups

Do you lead a Bible study group? Perhaps you are a pastor or staff member and you administrate groups. Some groups meet on Sunday morning prior to worship. Some groups meet at other times on Sunday and sometimes they meet during the week. Some groups meet on the church campus while others meet off campus and in homes. Some groups are fairly traditional in structure like Sunday school classes and others are more innovative like community based Bible study groups. Some groups are “open” so that anyone may jump in at any time and some are “closed” with limited time frames and are not open to new attendees until a new cycle begins.

Be sure to understand the strength of one universal principle that motivates growth in “open” groups and consistency in participation of “closed” groups. Here is the principle that applies to any group of any size in any place in any format: Your weekly attendance is ordinarily proportional to the number of ministry connections made by group members during the previous week. I can speak for an hour on this subject but let me drill down quickly and illustrate how it works. Group “A” and Group “B” both averaged twelve in their weekly attendance over the past few months. Group “A” begins to focus on intentional ministry connections for the next few months. The members are purposeful in touching base with those who had to miss for whatever reason, invite an average of six to eight guests each week, maintain contact with the faithful members to express appreciation as well as to identify any ministry needs that warrant a response, and have fellowships each month in addition to the weekly Bible study. Over the course of the month, well over 100 ministry connections were made.

Group “B” has also averaged about twelve in attendance each week. They love one another, are serious about studying God’s word, and are fine-upstanding Christians. However, any ministry connections they made were spontaneous. No on begrudges them for being spontaneous, but if you could track their ministry connections, which you cannot because they do not account for them, you would discover that they were not intentional in connecting with those who had to miss, invited only six people to visit over the previous month, did not reach out to even their faithful members unless they just happened to bump into them somewhere, ministered to a couple of families in severe crisis, and had no fellowship apart from the Bible study time. If you could calculate it, you would discover that fewer than a dozen ministry connections were made in the past month.  Group “A” made over 100 ministry connections and Group “B” had fewer than a dozen. Now you tell me…which group is most likely averaging more than a dozen or which group, if closed, likely maintained the strongest consistency in attendance? It is not rocket science but it is not common knowledge or every Bible study leader would leverage this concept. How about you? How about your Bible study leaders?

If you want to know more, I challenge you to take time to read chapter seven of my book “Sunday School That Really Works.”