Characteristics of Healthy Small Groups
The following list of characteristics are what FPC:Endicott small groups are encouraged to routinely evaluate and strive for in order to maintain and grow the health of each individual small group. Although each group will have its own unique identity, by regularly evaluating how it is doing against each of the characteristics, we can more effectively and systematically grow toward healthy small groups that benefit the members of the group along with FPC:Endicott as a whole.
Span of Care
Small groups make it possible for the entire congregation to experience relational discipleship and intentional care for each other. A “reasonable span of care” for effective ministry is considered 8-12 people (8-10 for groups of individuals, 10-12 for groups of couples.)
Covenant (An agreement between group members revolving around expectations)
The Covenant will be an expression of the group values, expectations and behaviors to which they will hold themselves mutually accountable. It is not dictated by the leader, but instead, formed by the group members. Covenants are reaffirmed on a yearly basis or when changes within the group occur.
Regularity of Meetings (How often do they gather)
Healthy groups meet a minimum of twice a month and also plan for meaningful connections during times of intentional breaks (holidays, summer, etc.) Groups that meet weekly tend to experience community life at a greater depth quicker.
Mission of FPC:Endicott
Healthy small groups actively support and work for the mission of FPC:Endicott. As part of this support, groups are encouraged to participate in church-wide initiatives.
Outward Focus (To reach more people)
Sharing the Good News should become an essential part of the group by maintaining an “Open Chair.” Who is God placing on our heart to be reaching out to? As new members are invited into the group, it will create a natural tension when the effective “Span of Care” is exceeded. Groups need to be proactive on how to handle this tension to maintain health.
Discipleship Focus (Together grow in Christ)
Spiritual growth is a lifelong process that requires time and a willing spirit. It results from the work of the Holy Spirit, obedience to Scripture, intimacy with Christ, and having experiences (especially adversity) and accountable relationships in community (adapted from Willowcreek’s Leading Life-changing Small Groups manual.) Key disciplines to be fostered within group members are:
- Prayer life (both within the group and personally)
- Devotional life (Daily personal time and group studies that are Biblically based, Christ-centered)
- Stewardship of their life (money, time, resources, spiritual gifts)
- Servant’s Heart
- Their Walk – are group members reflecting scriptural values within their lives and that of the group?
Modeling five purposes of the Church within the group
Healthy small groups incorporate all five purposes (or six great ends) of the Church while doing life together. These purposes are: Evangelism, Fellowship, Worship, Discipleship, and Ministry.
Community Focus (Everyone has a role)
Healthy small groups have leaders who have oversight for the health and well-being of the group and will mentor others to nurture and develop future leaders. Relationship-building outside of group times (church functions, sporting events, school activities, service opportunities, etc…) is encouraged of all group members. Other roles within the group will also be shared; examples are hospitality, prayer life, social, etc.