Culture Is The Key To Structure

With the holidays quickly approaching and a New Year on the horizon, this time of year can be a good chance to evaluate where you are as a small group ministry and begin to pray and cast vision for change. One of the areas I think needs to be the most fluid when it comes to change, is the overall structure of how you do small groups at your church.

Are the people in your church excited about small groups?

Are you launching new small groups on a regular basis?

Are you raising up new apprentice leaders and (or) small group leaders on a regular basis?

If you answered no to any of these questions it might be time to take a solid look at your structure and begin to make some changes. Here are five of the most popular small group structures to help guide you in your change making process.

Host Groups

“Can you open a bag of Doritos and press play on a DVD player?” I once heard a pastor ask that question to promote Host Groups, and while these groups are a good easy step into small group leadership, they can also be a good easy step for quick growth. Host Groups are often recruited in conjunction with a church-wide campaign. Leaders are mostly responsible for opening their home, providing a snack, and managing a pre-packaged curriculum (usually a DVD and workbook).

Sermon Based Groups

The title basically say’s it all. These groups are focused on the same topic or passage of Scripture that was covered in the previous weekend message. Sermon based curriculum really drives home the teachings from Sunday throughout the week and helps people apply it even further. They allow people to ask questions and interact with the sermon in a way they can’t on Sundays. These groups are a great way to “continue the conversation” and further your Pastors influence throughout the week.

Open Groups

These groups are usually open year round and will always have an “open chair” to fill. In fact praying for the “open chair” and encouraging group members to invite family, friends and co-workers to fill it is a big part of the strategy for growth for these types of groups. Eight to ten people is usually the optimal size.

Closed Groups

This type of group is usually limited to a certain amount of people so that they can focus on building relationships, trust, and accountability between group members. They usually meet for specific amount of time and then re-open at the beginning of a new quarter, semester, or church-wide campaign.

Open Market Groups

Quality control is a key essential in the success of managing these groups, especially in regards to resources and curriculum. Leaders are usually the type who like to make their own decisions when it comes to curriculum, meeting time, place, and meeting consistency. An open market structure can create a wide variety of groups available, and makes launching new groups relatively easy.

When it comes to your small group structure, it’s not about trying to copy and paste what the church around the corner is doing because their small group ministry is exploding. It’s about knowing your people and your church’s culture well, and designing your structure so that people are not only excited about being connected in a small group, but you create a passion inside of them to lead one in the future.


  • Danny Bias

    Danny is the Life Groups Connections Director at Newbreak Church in San Diego, CA. Helping new people get connected at Newbreak and into life groups are his passion. His role as Life Groups champion gives him the opportunity to train and develop Life Group staff, coaches, and leaders at all five Newbreak campuses. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married thirteen years and have three boys together, Cash, Colt, and Jase. Danny also loves road cycling and the outdoors.

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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