How do you define success when it comes to your small group or Sunday School class? Is it based on… attendance? enrollment? guests? prayer time? depth of Bible study? Or perhaps it is a combination of all or some of the above.
Regardless of how you define success, there has got to be some measure of what success looks like for your group. Here are some of the issues behind measuring success:
Who or what defines success? The church? The group? The group leader? The denomination?
What standard will you use for defining success? Another church? Arthur Flake? NavPress? LifeWay?
How will you measure success?
Rather than throw out some possibilities and use the standard that you like best (and probably seems most attainable for your group and context), I recommend that we return to the “gold standard”.
Biblically Functioning Communities
Ultimately, the source we must turn to for measuring our group’s success isn’t the denomination… or what ever the group feels is the standard… or the context of our group. Our measure is really the Bible! What does God set forth as initiatives that He wants our group to strive for!
A small group is really a “church within a church”. The mission of the church should be reflected in the mission of the group, and one of those missions is community. In John 17:22-23, Jesus prays “May they be one as We are one”. Does community get any tighter than that?! Here’s the question… Does everyone who belongs to your group have at least one person that they can call at 2:00 am when a crisis occurs?
Life-Changing Bible study
A biblically functioning community has the Bible in its title! Hebrews 4:12 – “The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, able to separate soul from spirit like bone from marrow”. Here is the question: Is Bible study impacting people’s lives to the point that Scripture is changing their habits? In other words, the Bible is transforming who they are into what they are to become.
In John 1, we have the story of Philip bringing his friend Nathanael to Jesus. Now, this was no easy invite! As I read this passage, I realize that Nathanael has the spiritual gift of cynicism!! But Philip does something bold, he invites his friend to give Jesus a try (vs. 46 – “Come and see”). The question: Are the members of your group sharing their testimony with their friends and inviting them to the group to help them meet Jesus?
Your group is meant to do more than sit and soak! They were made to serve! Mark 10:45 makes it clear, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many”. We have the parable of the Good Samaritan who stopped to serve a stranger, even though the religous leaders did not (gulp). So… is your group serving its neighbor?
Perhaps one of the most quoted and also most ignored verses in Scripture is 2 Timothy 2:2. This verse is used often in discipleship circles, but is mostly ignored when it comes to Sunday School and small groups. Essentially, the core teaching of this verse is that your group is supposed to multiply itself. And not just one time… multiple times over! Is your group developing leaders? And is your group multipying itself by starting new groups?
So how does your group measure up when it comes to being a biblically functioning community? Better yet, what are some things your group should do to bring itself into more alignment with the Bible?