Three Breakthrough Ideas from the Global Small Group Movement

Every month small group ministry leaders are meeting around the world, finding fellowship and wisdom with other ministry leaders in their community. What they’re actually discovering in Small Group Network huddles is that we are better together.

Here are three quick ideas from worldwide small group huddles that your small group ministry can take advantage of today:

1. Be open to other ideas. Some churches and some ministry leaders adopt the NIH (Not Invented Here) principle. NIH is when we fail to adopt or adapt ideas from other places because we think we should come up with all the good ideas. There’s another word for this – pride. During one mission trip to a third world country there was a knock on the door late one evening as I was visited by the leader of a local church. He told me that our teaching made sense, but they wouldn’t be able to use any of these ideas because their church was not a follower church, their philosophy was to lead. I hesitated to mention to this well-meaning leader that Jesus taught the importance of being “a follower.” Instead, I simply responded that many churches had grown exponentially in discipleship and numbers by using the best ideas from all over the world.

As you learn about the experience of other churches, you may need to reconsider a strategy or tactic that you didn’t find successful in the past. Sometimes ideas take time and practice to develop. Some ideas that didn’t work just need tweaking to make them breakthrough strategies. If other churches are successfully using an idea that didn’t work in your church, find out exactly what they did and then consider giving it another try. In my business career clients would often naively dismiss strategies that had helped other companies gain phenomenal success. Their reasoning was generally, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Most breakthroughs are preceded by a string of failed experiments. Just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. It might just mean that it wasn’t done right the first time. Find out how others used the idea successfully, and give it another go.

2. Don’t stress over what you call your groups. They can be called anything – Life Groups, Cell Groups, Small Groups, Community Groups, Home Groups, Disciple Groups. More important than what you call your groups, is how intentional you are with them. What’s your desired outcome and how will you get there? If you don’t have a strategic plan for your ministry, check out going to an Accelerate! workshop or hosting one in your area. A great reminder on focused intent is to always keep the main thing the main thing. What you call your groups may be important to you, but it is not the main thing. The main thing is to get people in your church connected into disciple-making small groups so they can become more like Christ and reach others who don’t know Him. If there’s a reason to change what you call your groups, change. Then get back to the main thing.

3. Be inclusive with your groups strategy, not exclusive. Find out if a certain part of your community is not engaging in your groups ministry and then get them involved. A savvy business person once said, “If you want to attract a mouse, you have to look like a cheese.” To include other people groups, learn what attracts them, and then help them get that in your small group ministry. Maybe the breakthrough will come from starting groups in different languages for immigrant people groups. Maybe it will be from starting groups that have a fellowship meal with the group meeting – for ethnic or cultural groups. Or, maybe it will come from incorporating something else. Find the “cheese” and you’ll engage a whole new segment of your community.

Don’t miss out on the wealth of wisdom to be gained from being in a Small Group Network huddle. If you’re not in a huddle now, find one and join it, or start one.


  • Ron Wilbur

    Ron is formerly the Pastor of Small Group Health at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Ron co-leads our connections team and leads the international team connecting SGN members outside of North America.

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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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