Does a Small Group Need a Vacation?
in Small Group Network, July 2001
In 1992 I wrote a manual that guided the specifics of our small group
ministry, including our programmed vacations. This is what I wrote in 1992:
observe several Ďbreaksí during the year:
One month break from the 1st
week of December to the 1st week of January
Two week break during the Easter
Two month break during the summer
I figured this strategy would ease the leadership load and encourage the leaders not to give up. However, I noticed two problems.
Gleanings from Small Group Based Churches
1995-1997, I had the opportunity to visit and study small group based churches
around the world. I discovered that these churches didnít advocate
programmatic breaks (vacations) for the small groups during the year.
churches asked their small groups to meet throughout the year (while allowing
for individual groups to decide not to meet on specific holidays, etc.)
noticed that these churches prioritized the small group on the same level as
the Sunday celebration. Since the weekly worship service met throughout the
year, the small group ministry must do the same. These churches were concerned
about the spiritual growth of the members and felt it would be irresponsible
pastoral care to close down cell ministry for an entire summer, for example.
If small groups are another program in the church (howbeit an important one) there is no problem closing and opening them as another cycle in the church, just like the Awana program, Sunday School class, or Evangelism Explosion.
in small group based churches, cell and celebration are equally important and
are necessary for continual growth, edification, and evangelism.
Donít Make an Official Decree
I now advise church leaders not to make an official church decree that all groups will close during such and such a holiday, season, etc. Small groups should be the life of the church, not subject to programmatic cycles of church calendars or work schedules.
But will small groups meet all fifty-two weeks of the year. I donít believe so. My point is this: let the individual group decide. Upper level leadership should not decide for them.
If the church has
officially decreed that small groups will not meet during the summer, what
happens to the person who receives Jesus during the summer? Will she have to
wait until September to join a small group? Our church doesnít close small
group ministry during the summer, although we have fewer groups meetings for a
variety of reasons.
Let it be a natural thing
I believe there will be natural times in which the small groups will not meet. For example, if 75% of the group will be gone the last two weeks of August, the group will probably decide not to meet during those weeks. The group will inform the supervisor of their decision.
perhaps three of the six families will be home in August and would like to
continue to meet (Remember that when the official
leader is absence, itís an excellent
time for others to exercise leadership).
My own Group
me speak from experience. In my own small group, we have a yearly Christmas
party in mid-December. We donít meet again until the beginning of January.
We do the same thing during the Easter week. There are other times during the
year when we donít meet for a variety of natural reasons. However, our small
group church doesnít make an official announcement: ďAll small groups will
close during these holidays or these summer months.Ē
Does a Small need a vacation? If you mean an official vacation thatís programmed into the
church calendar, I would say, NO. But if weíre talking about the group
deciding not to meet on certain occasions, GO FOR IT.