Home > Uncategorized > Biggest objection to small groups and a solution in BETA.

Biggest objection to small groups and a solution in BETA.

It is necessary that this post is longer than normal. Don’t be a pansy; read it.

This post is for 3 groups: small group leaders at the Summit, people in other churches who have small groups & people who object to small groups. For the group that doesn’t object but just doesn’t have them b/c they don’t fit their model of church, I guess this is just informative. Consider yourself the Canadian citizen living in America right now. You cant vote, but all you hear is talk about who you should vote for.

The Objection – no accountability
Anyways, back to the debate. Seriously the objection to the small group model of discipleship I hear often and the one that carries the most weight is the accountability objection. It goes something like this: “how do you know what your groups are doing? Are they meeting regularly? Are they teaching heresy? Are they really doing life together or is that just what you say they are doing? Are your leaders feeling detached from the church? THERE ARE TOO MANY UNKNOWNS! SMALL GROUPS ARE DANGEROUS FOR A CHURCH!”

The reason this objection (which we will sum up and name as the “accountability” objection) is a good one is because it strikes at the core of both what the local church, and the pastor, is supposed to be. The local church was commissioned to cultivate unity around their identity in Christ (Acts 2:42-47) and the pastor was to “guard the deposit (gospel) entrusted to him” (1 Tim 6:20-21) and to teach the gospel , “keeping a close watch on yourself and the teaching” (1 Tim 4:16). So, some will say, how could you possibly build unity and preserve the correct teaching of scripture when your people are broken up into small groups meeting at various times and in places that span 4 counties?

A Response – Small Groups aren’t alone
Before providing a solution to the accountability question I briefly want to point out something about the objection. It assumes that false teaching and disunity do not occur in other models. I think we can all safely say this is a bad assumption. A friend of mine who is a Sunday School pastor (yes we are still friends) told me just the other day about how he discovered, through YOU TUBE, that one of his SS teachers was teaching, basically preaching, pretty blatant heresy on Sunday mornings, just across the hall from this pastor, during the “SS hour.” This is an example, not a proof, of a simple truth & warning from scripture: “False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…” (2 Peter 2:1). Basically, this warning is that your discipleship model is not immune to Satan’s attack whether you do it all in one building or all online or in living rooms around town. Do not be too proud to acknowledge that, the spiritual safety of the people in your church depend on you acknowledging that.

A Solution – coaching
The Summit Church is a small groups church. We believe whole-heartedly discipleship happens best in relationships and those relationships are formed best in small groups. We have tried several models and methods to institute accountability among our small group leaders. The one I am telling you about is the latest. (Caveat: I don’t mind telling you about it because we are confident it is fully in accord with biblical teaching, but when we identify a better, biblically sound, method we are not going to be too proud to jump on it.) After observing several small group-based churches in the United States we decided to follow the lead of Willow Creek & Redeemer Pres who have successfully instituted a model we are calling the coaching model.

It’s pretty simple. Every small group leader has a coach. A coach has 2 qualifications:

  1. experience as a small group leader
  2. identified by the pastoral staff as a spiritually maturing Christian of good character (We believe our next crop of elders will come from our coaches).


A coach has 2 responsibilities:

  1. support the 2 to 3 group leaders (no more except in rare circumstances) they have been entrusted with by the small groups pastor
  2. Meet monthly with other coaches & the small groups pastor. At the monthly meeting we pray for our leaders, diagnose and problem solve small group problems, and encourage one another with what God is doing in these groups

Is this model Satan-proof? Of course not. But Jesus is. So we will continue to bathe our small groups in prayer as we institute this model. I would love your feedback on this concept. For you SummitLIFE leaders, I know this is new so like the title of this post says, its still in BETA mode. Pray with us that God blesses this effort and moves our church towards spiritual maturity.

For a more in-depth look at this model, 2 good resources are Coaching Life Changing Small Groups by the guys at Willow Creek, and the Redeemer Presbyterian Church Planting Manual by of course the staff at Redeemer.

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  1. October 16, 2008 at 1:33 pm

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