10 Diseases of Church Small Groups

My wife and I recently started a small group in our home. I believe small groups are critical to the health of a church, but many small groups are nonetheless unhealthy. Here are some the “diseases” they suffer:

  1. Insulation-ism. This group is friendly toward one another, but they’re not much concerned about reaching new people. 
  2. Bible study void. One goal of the group is to study the Bible, but they never really get there when they gather. 
  3. Leadership backstab-itis. The small group becomes a “safe” place to do little but criticize church leaders. This kind of small group is often instrumental in church division. 
  4. Hypergrowth. That is, the group has become so large that it’s no longer a small group. It’s a small congregation. 
  5. Shallowness syndrome. The group gathers regularly, but everything they do is only surface level. “Life-on-life” is non-existent. 
  6. Coronation infection. The leader is king or queen, and the small group is his or her kingdom. Few people mess with the leader. 
  7. Silence syndrome. The leader invites participation and discussion, but nobody responds. Were it not for the leader’s voice, no voices would ever be heard. 
  8. Prayerlessness. If the group prays at all, it’s only a perfunctory prayer at the beginning and end of the group session. 
  9. Boredom-itis. The leader is such a boring leader that no one wants to attend. No one does anything about it, however. 
  10. Generation-ism. Every small group is built around a generation or stage of life (an approach I like), but the generations never get outside their own walls to know their own church better.  

Does any of these diseases characterize your small group? What other diseases would you add?


  • Bud Russell says:

    Pet Projectitis- Strong willed members or leaders press and lead the group to create their own projects or support a certain mission cause and eventually a majority of the members only give monetarily to their group’s fund and exclude giving to the church.

  • Bryan says:

    #3, all the way! Years ago, my church was going through quite a lot. The small group that I taught became a breeding ground of dissent. Every week, I would leave with my heart heavy. Something was wrong. One day, I told everyone that enough was enough. That from there on out we would pray for our church and not sit there and gossip about. Also told my group that it was okay to acknowledge that things were going on, to keep our eyes open, but that ultimately we were there to learn and to pray for our church. God used that moment, that group decision, to help us grow.

    #8 is something that my group needs to work on.

  • Replacement Theology: The members of the small group value the gathering of the small group over the gathering of the church.

  • June Wilhite says:

    I’ve observed most of these in small groups I’ve visited.
    I would add that, in some small groups, there is much discussion regarding personal opinions, with little reference to what the Bible says.

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