Jump directly to the Content

The Long Goodbye: Can Small Groups Break Up Well?

What should church leaders do when a group's on the decline, but no one is willing to pull the plug?

I recently joined the leadership team for my church's small-groups ministry. During a recent Saturday breakfast, one of the church's longtime small-groups leaders (we'll call him Tim for this post) shared an unusual, and uncomfortable, predicament.

For several reasons I'll explain in a moment, Tim's group of eight years–one so close that members actually stood bedside with him a few years ago as his wife passed away from a difficult illness–decelerated during the past six months, basically to the point of becoming defunct.

But no one was willing to officially call it quits.

"I honestly don't know what to do," Tim said. His eyes screamed with frustration and disappointment. How could he pull the plug on a group that meant so much to him and its members?

The demise stemmed from a few factors. One couple valued the group's closeness to the point of insisting no new members get added. Another couple didn't want to study the Bible or read a book as a group–only social activities were acceptable. ...

Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Tuesdays with Tozer- Repentance
Tuesdays with Tozer- Repentance
What brings a person to a place of repentance?
From the Magazine
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
A Christian reconciliation group in Israel and Palestine warned that war would come. Now the war threatens their relevance.
Editor's Pick
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
Understanding God and our world needs more than bare reason and experience.