When was the last time you gave your small group a check-up? How do you know if your group is healthy? How do you know what aspects of your group need improvement? Here's a good evaluation tool you can use.
The following list was originally created by Rick Warren. I've taken his seven main points and modified/enhanced them a bit to be more applicable to my context. Here are Seven Marks of a Healthy Small Group:
1. Healthy small groups study the Bible. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching …” The teaching of the apostles is what we call the New Testament today. Every week at Calvary, we provide small group questions that focus on the same passage that was preached on Sunday. The benefit of this is that it helps people focus on one Bible truth, instead of having them try to focus on 5-6 different ideas each week.
2. Healthy small groups share life together. The Book of Acts says the early believers were devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42). Notice the Bible says they were devoted to the fellowship, not just to fellowship. In other words, fellowship is not just something the church does; we are the fellowship. Jesus calls us to be committed to one another, and it is through small groups that we learn the skills of relationship. Small groups are laboratories of love, where we learn to obey the command of Jesus to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
3. Healthy small groups remember Jesus together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves “to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Communion is an important ceremony that reminds us of Christ's work on our behalf. Spending time to remember this together is a great way to grow together.
4. Healthy small groups pray together. The Bible says the early believers devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). In the intimacy and confidentiality of small groups, we can pray for each other as we share our hurts, reveal our feelings, confess our failures, disclose our doubts, admit our fears, acknowledge our weaknesses, and ask for help.
5. Healthy small groups are generous. The Bible says these small groups gave “to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45 NIV). Small groups allow us to help each other with practical needs. Can I loan you a car? Can I provide you with some meals when you are sick? The early Church had decentralized ministries, people just took care of one another as they were able. The small group model enables this kind of care and generosity.
6. Healthy small groups worship together. The Bible says the New Testament small groups worshiped together, “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47). We need to worship God more than once a week, and small groups offer an opportunity to worship together. Worship is more than just singing songs. Worship can be a time of thanksgiving, or just recounting the blessings God has provided over the course of the previous week.
7. Healthy small groups witness together. As these small groups met together, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). They were inviting others to join them. One of the proofs of a healthy small group is that it grows. True Christianity is contagious, the excitement of new life in Christ should spread outward from every small group and into the community.