There are many good reasons to join a Small Group, but here are five bad reasons to join one:
1. Because I Don’t Need Worship
The lure of sleeping in and the ability to watch content online are tempting. They can make us undersell the value of Sunday morning worship. We could think that involvement in a Small Group absolves us of our responsibility to fully engage on Sunday mornings. That won’t work. Sunday mornings are the primary place where God’s people gather and worship, and Small Groups allow us to dig deeper into how to apply those truths into our real lives. The sanctuary and the living room work together.
2. Because I Can’t Belong in “Big Church”
When you’re a part of a big church, it’s easy to think that being in a tight-knit group is the main place where you belong. Actually, the first place is the church as a whole. That’s what membership accomplishes: setting us up to be fully committed to others and fully submitted to our leaders. If I call this church “my church,” I should be a member. Then a beautiful outgrowth of that belonging is finding interpersonal community in a Small Group where I can grow.
3. Because I Want Best Friends
Christians can have intimacy in ways that others cannot, mainly because we share the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). And we should pursue friendships as a critical part of our spiritual lives. Small Groups should be growing in friendship.
But imposing a demand that every person in the group must become our closest friends is too high of an expectation. Instead, we should be intentional with others inside and outside of the group (not neglectful!) and willing to embrace the deep friendships that God surfaces. As pastor and author Drew Hunter states, “In the end, the best advice for cultivating friendship is not to find a better friend but to become one.”
4. To Be with People Just like Me
It’s always fun to find commonality. In fact, that’s usually how relationships start. But when we expect that our Christian community has to look just like us, we are missing something.
Jesus is the center point of Christian community. Just like Jesus’ original disciples (Matt. 10:2-4), I can be close with those who are different than me in age, background, or politics because we are both following Jesus together. That means we have supernatural fellowship.
5. For Social Hang Time
Small Groups should be a group of people where you can let your hair down: over a meal, over a game, or in conversation. Small Groups don’t just gather for intentional discussion; they connect beyond that time as well.
But expecting a Small Group to fulfill all my social desires will be disappointing. Others may not be available, or they may be more intentional than just hanging out. Certainly the Small Group gathering is more than a hangout: it’s a time for real spiritual conversation and sincere prayer.
6. To Find a Bible Study
Often, the goal of a Bible study is to learn more. That’s not the goal of a Small Group. A Small Group leans toward applying what is learned. It’s about helping each other live out what we’re learning from God’s Word, and caring for one another when we fall short—or carrying others burdens of sin or suffering.
How Do I Get It Right?
Don’t be discouraged about these misguided motivations. If you know that life is hard alone and you are looking for a small community that can help you find hope, you are in the right mindset to find a Small Group.
If anything, this list reminds us that we are broken people who can get off track. We need hope, and we need to find hope together with others. That’s exactly what a Small Group is for.