In Christian circles, “Small Group” is the new, seeker-friendly phrase for “Bible Study” and allows Christians to tell people they are attending a religious function without sounding self-righteous or judgmental. While this re-branding may work in some instances, changing a word here and a phrase there can only do so much. If the Christian involved in the small group is a judgmental or self-righteous person, their friends will see them in that light regardless of if they say they are attending a small group, Bible study, Sunday school, choir practice, or sinner smiting.
This is also used by churches to get more participation from their members. The phrase “Bible study” just doesn’t sound like any fun for a new Christian and it doesn’t take long for more seasoned Christians to start asking, “Well, how many times can one study the Bible, anyway?”
The phrase “Small group,” however, eliminates social anxiety by stating up front that this is a small gathering of people, so one does not need to fear a large crowd or even a typical classroom-sized affair. In fact, while Bible study is the goal, many small groups will use a popular Christian book to go about it, and sometimes they simply have a meal together and “do life” together.
The promise of small groups is to give people within a church a group of people that they can spend time with, raise their kids together, avoid worldly influences with, and help each other in times of difficulty.
The problem with these small groups is that they break up faster than teenage garage bands and after being a member of four or five of these groups in a two or three year period, most participants simply get burned out and turn their attention to football or Buddhism.
Experts at the Association for Better Christian Small Group Functioning and Cohesion (ABCSGFC) have attempted to pinpoint exactly what causes these groups to disband at such rapid rates, but the group quickly disbanded and half the members turned their attention to football while the others quietly converted to Buddhism.
However, Nickabod Urich, a college student at the University of Northeastern Montana has written a brief thesis on the subject, simply titled, “Nobody wants to hang out around a group of Christians.” While this theory deserved merit, Urich didn’t actually talk to anyone who had ever been involved in a small group and simply made up the thesis using his and his extremely liberal professors’ preconceived notions about religion. Urich, for his part, later converted to Buddhism.
If Urich, and others like him had simply asked why small groups break up, they would have found that the number one reason small groups among adults aged 25 to 45 break up is child care. The number two reason, for those of you who have somehow managed to read this far, is attributed to differences of opinions about which popular author to study next and serious doubts about the salvation of the group’s leaders.
Incidentally, these are also the top reasons why adults aged 25 to 45 leave churches.